A SEISMOLOGIST has said that much bigger earthquakes are possible in Cornwall.

Yesterday evening's tremor measured 2.2 on the Richter Scale, with the main force being felt in the Helston area.

Brian Baptie, of the British Geological Survey, told the Packet: "Earthquakes are caused by the movement of tectonic plates, but we're quite fortunate that the UK is in the middle of plates, so the deformation of the earth's crust is significantly less.

"However, it can build up and spill out over a relatively long period of time, so a much bigger earthquake is possible at some point."

The BGS has 80 earthquake sensors around the country, which are real time and enable seismologists to measure the size and depth of the quake almost immediately after the tremor.

Cornwall has around eight sensors which were installed in the 1980s, 20 years after the first batch was installed in other parts of the UK.

Sensors near Penryn were installed as part of a geothermal research project on hot dry rock at Rosemanowes Quarry in 1986.

Once the BGS has received the information from the sensors, it compares it with the intensity of the shock felt by people and whether or not there was damage to buildings.

Mr Baptie added that the most active area in the UK is Wales.

As recently as February last year, people in Cornwall felt an earthquake, the epicentre of which was 20km from Swansea, with 4.4 magnitude at a depth of 7.4km.

Reports of the shock came in from West Cornwall, Truro, St Agnes and St Day.

"An earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter Scale happens every 25 years in the UK, so that will be every few hundred years in Cornwall. The higher up the scale you go, the less likely they are - so a 6 will only happen every several hundred years in the UK," said Brian, who is based in Edinburgh.

He added that there earthquakes measuring 2 on the Lizard Peninsula in 2016 and in Bodmin in 2011.

In 1996 there was a 3.8 quake in Penzance and in 1966, superficial damage such as cracks in wall plaster appeared following a 4.1 quake in Helston.

Prior to that, a tremor measured 4 in Padstow in 1859 and in 1757, another measured 4.4 in Penzance.

The world's largest earthquake took place in Chile, in 1960, measuring 9.5 on the Richter Scale.

It produced a powerful tsunami that travelled at a speed of about 200 miles per hour across the Pacific Ocean, killing 61 people in Hawaii, 138 in Japan, and 32 in the Philippines.

The BGS would like to hear from anyone who felt yesterday's earthquake, by filling out an online form at www.earthquaktes.bgs.ac.uk