RAF chiefs have confirmed that a ‘quake’ which struck north Northumberland this afternoon was actually caused by one of its Tornado fighter aircraft breaking the sound barrier during a training exercise over the North Sea.
A spokeswoman from RAF Boulmer, which is home to the NATO Control and Reporting Centre, said: “We can confirm that a single Tornado GR4 from RAF Lossiemouth completed a pre-planned supersonic run off the coast of Northumberland this afternoon during a sortie to RAF Marham in Norfolk.
“The supersonic element of the flight was conducted in accordance with RAF flying training rules, which state that aircraft should be more than 10 miles from the coast.
“Any inconvenience caused to local residents is regretted.”
Social networking sites including Twitter and Facebook lit up at just after 3.15pm when tremors were felt and a loud, low rumble heard in an area stretching from Berwick to Ashington.
At first, an earthquake was suspected, but the British Geological Survey (BGS) said the shockwave came from a ‘sonic event’ which was picked up by its sensitive monitoring equipment based in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders.
A spokesman said: “Data from the BGS seismic networks in the region were examined and a signal consistent with a possible sonic origin was recorded at 3.13pm.
“The reports received are also consistent with historical observations received for previous events with a sonic origin.”