Earth tremor in the Southern Cape

According to News24, the S.A Weather and Disaster Information Service and other sources, a “a light, but quite noticeable tremor” took place at approximately 16:15 on Saturday 14 May. It was felt all the way from the George in the west to beyond Plettenberg Bay in the east, and as far inland as the Langkloof and Little Karoo.

Southern Cape & Little Karoo. Click on map to enlarge it. (Map source: Philips' Atlas of Southern Africa and The World)

People from the suburb we live in said they also felt it. I am somewhat disappointed as I seem to be one of the few people who didn’t (not a huge surprise, I suppose, as I’ve slept through a 6.3 magnitude earthquake before!). Neither did Willie, who was at the time travelling in his car. Although people in the area reported their pets getting visibly restless and upset just before and during the tremor, our dog and cat continued their afternoon nap without flinching, and woke up about an hour later demanding their dinner. Quite frankly, our house and windows shake more noticeably when there is a thunderstorm in the mountains close to us.

While the event itself obviously never made much of an impact on me, I am concerned about why it would have happened in the first place. I’ve always thought of the Southern Cape as being geologically fairly stable. If anyone does know, please leave a comment.

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Categories: Random


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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24 Comments on “Earth tremor in the Southern Cape”

  1. May 16, 2011 at 6:34 am #

    Interesting. Earthquakes are the last thing I associated with your part of the world. Hopefully it’s just an isolated incident.

  2. May 16, 2011 at 7:41 am #

    That’s a bit scary. There was a tremor here last week, but I didn’t feel it either. I didn’t know until somebody told me.

    • May 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

      Glad I’m not the only one who is so oblivious to things like this! A friend living in a different province, texted me to ask if we had also felt it in our town. Don’t know how she got to hear about it so quickly . . .

  3. Sarita Botha
    May 16, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    As a child I remember an earthquake or two in the area, but it has been such a long time since the last one, I forget that it has happened in this area before.

    • May 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

      Oh, okay. If it is an occasional thing here, then there’s probably no need to worry.

  4. May 16, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Must be the impending end of the world predicted for next week… Only plausible explanation.

    • May 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      Yes, that seems to be the only logical explanation! Or it could be the Aliens coming. I keep seeing these strange UFO-shaped clouds. Which may not be clouds at all.

  5. May 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    I wouldn’t be too concerned – even relatively inactive places get tremors once in a while. Adelaide, where I grew up, was really stable. One day a 5.1 tremor went past. I totally failed to notice. I was rather disappointed; apparently it caused windows to rattle in some places, but not in my house!

    • May 16, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

      Okay, well you and I either live(d) in very well-built houses not easily rattled, or we really are too engrossed in other things to notice these minor tremors.

  6. Lu
    May 16, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    Must be the season.. this morning at 7:15 am there was a tremor (magnitude 3.1) felt in and around the East Rand – all the way to Fourways. Here, you might be able to put it down to a collapsing mine shaft (or maybe even a truck falling into one of our legendary Gauteng potholes!). In the Cape area, even though geologically stable, there is always going to be a teensy-weensy bit of “shifting” or “settling”. Nothing serious to worry about though!

    • May 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

      Thanks for leaving a comment, Lu. Now that I’ve heard an “official explanation” from a geologist, I feel much better! 🙂 Although I still think Emily (see comment above) might be right . . . 😉

      • Lu
        May 16, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

        Is it due next week already??!! Good grief, I’ve too many things to do! 😉

  7. May 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    I heard about the tremor from my parents yesterday – I think they heard about it on the news. Of course, we ended up wondering about our town’s disaster plan, or rather the lack thereof. I find it interesting that the tremor apparently also hit coastal towns that are much closer to J’bay than the quake in January, which I didn’t know about. It is mentioned in this article:

    There is a report about a small tremor in Jo’burg this morning, but I guess that isn’t a strange happening with all the mines in the area.

    • May 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

      Thanks for the link! That explains why I missed it. We occasionally have low-flying aircraft coming over our house (en route to the airport), and I’ve learnt to ignore them.

  8. May 16, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Sounds scarey–earthquakes can do massive damage–as we’ve seen in Haiti and Japan! Take care, my friend!

    • May 17, 2011 at 5:55 am #

      Actually since I didn’t even notice it, it wasn’t scary for me. I don’t think we are on any major fault-line, so shouldn’t have any big earthquakes here.

  9. jacquelincangro
    May 16, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    I’ve never been through an earthquake before so I imagine it must be really scary. I did live in hurricane country for a long time, but at least we got a fair amount of warning.

    • May 17, 2011 at 5:58 am #

      According to the US Geological Survey, the quake had a magnitude of 4.3 on the Richter Scale, so a really minor one. There were also no reports of injury or damage. Since the locals here don’t ever experience earthquakes, they found it quite scary though.

  10. May 16, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    I live in Greater Manchester in the UK. We don’t get earthquakes much that I’m aware of, but some years ago we had a whole cluster of them (believe it or not, ‘cluster’ is the official term). I personally experienced quite a big one; another big one happened while I was asleep but my husband felt it and thought it was a truck about to hit our house.

    The whole thing was rare but apparently not unusual.

    • May 17, 2011 at 6:03 am #

      Our area is geologically very quiet, with decades between any noticeable seismic activity, so people did panic a little. Probably rather because they didn’t understand why it was happening, than the actual event itself. The earthquake in Japan is still fresh in everyone’s mind.

      Is Manchester a mining area?

      • May 17, 2011 at 9:40 am #

        No. Cotton, manufacturing, inland port.

  11. June 1, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    The article in your blog reminds me some old memory.It gives me happy.I think we will have a harmonious talk.


  1. Scientists find odd twist in slow 'earthquakes': Tremor running backwards | Natural Disasters - May 22, 2011

    […] Earth tremor in the Southern Cape | Notes from Africa […]

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