Earthquake rattles parts of South Africa

As many htxt.africa reader no doubt felt, a fairly substantial (by South African standards) earthquake rumbles across large parts of the nation. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) the epicentre was 6 kilometres east of the sleepy town of Orkney in the North West province.

According to them, the tremor registered a magnitude of 5.3 on the Richter scale [later downgraded to 5.2] at a depth of about 10 kilometres below ground, and lasted for about 67 seconds. Orkney is approximately 200 kilometres south-west from Johannesburg.

While the cause of the tremor hasn’t been revealed yet, the town is surrounded by a number of mines, including the Vaal Reefs mine. According to the town’s Wikipedia entry, “some of the deepest and richest gold mines have been worked in the area for decades.”

A Seismic hazard map of South Africa

A Seismic hazard map of South Africa

According to the director of the University of Pretoria’s National Hazards Centre and seismologist Dr Andrzej Kijko, South Africans should get used to the feeling, as more can be expected in the future.

“We do expect an increase of activity in the centre of Johannesburg – there have been more earthquakes recently and they are getting stronger. We can only speculate, but it is very likely caused by acid water under Johannesburg, with levels increasing,” he told Radio 702’s Midday Report host Stephen Grootes.

There appears to have been no damage to telecommunications infrastructure at this point, but various mobile operators are still assessing the situation.

[Image - CC by 2.0/PK]

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