Bil Browning

Earthquake rattles Indiana & Illinois

Filed By Bil Browning | April 18, 2008 9:20 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Illinois, Indiana

Indiana went West Coast over night. A 5.2 magnitude earthquake hit the southern Illinois/Indiana border this morning around 5:40am.earthquake.jpg

Most people don't realize that a fault runs through Indiana. It's not the first time we've had a good shaking, but it doesn't happen often. Forecasters have often said that we're overdue for a mammoth seismic event. Of course, our houses and office buildings aren't built to withstand a major earthquake... (When was the last time you heard of a trembler taking out a trailer park? Tornados are a different story.)

I remember the last time was in the early 90's. I lived in Evansville when it happened and I barely felt it. This time though, it shook the house and got all the dogs howling. There's nothing like being woken up to a pack of baying dogs including our neighbor's Chow that opted to go all Hound of the Baskervilles on the neighborhood.

Still, it was cool since it doesn't happen often.


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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 18, 2008 9:33 AM

I have already send emails off to everyone I know from Chicago to Louisville reading:

(subject)

No, you did not have sex

(Message)

The earth really did move

This along with a request to know that they are OK.

Having lived in Los Angeles for twenty years, this morning I was half-asleep just after having visited the bathroom (I'm an old man, y'know) and I remember thinking, "Interesting ... we're having a little earthquake ... but I'm in Indiana, right?" ... and then thinking "Oh, this was about a 4.5, no big deal!" ... but then I did get up and turn on the TV to be sure it really was *only* an earthquake (as opposed to maybe some terrorist bombing one of the downtown Indy skyscrapers, a la the Oklahoma City bombing).

The biggest earthquake I've ever been in was the Northridge earthquake in the early 1990's. Now that one was a real roller-coaster ride, and it seemed to go on forever.

That was definitely freakier than the one from when I was still in high school. I've heard that they felt at least a *little* shake all the way up in Ontario.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 18, 2008 1:12 PM

Ah, but Allen, you were younger then.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | April 18, 2008 2:02 PM

It was felt from the Canadian capital into Georgia and from the Mississippi through Ohio. It was three miles deep and, unlike in California where the plates are very fractured and act something like fire breaks against the vibrations' spread, Eastern U.S. quakes' vibrations can travel long distances without anything to stop them.

We heard early from friends and family in Indiana about it. One slept through it, one had a window broken by a flying windchime, and one, who had a candle lit, watched in amazement as the candle moved out from under its flame which continued, for a moment, its dance where the candle had once been.

We remember the preceding couple of quakes in Indiana. During the bigger of the two, I was at work and Phyllis had stopped in to bring me lunch. She felt it first and wondered aloud what it was and I told her it was a quake and to step into the doorway just in case.

I spent much of my school years in Mill Valley, Callifornia, in the county that the Golden Gate Bridge connects to San Francisco. The Dipsea Trail, which went very near our house, also ran alongside the San Andreas fault on the seaward side of the ridge we lived on -- you could see the displacement and the resulting gulley-like gap that was six feet or more high and wide at places. I've crossed it many a time hiking to the beach.

Of course earthquakes were quite a concern in our house design -- we opted against a basement foundation for a house on wooden stilts on concrete footers, there being less danger of crumbling and more likelihood that the wood would provide some room for movement without breaking.

Our home site had an old slab foundation further down the hill, though. Back before the bridge was completed, when the only way to get back and forth to the city was by ferry and when the hills were sparsely populated, a geologist surveyed all the many available building sites in the area and determined that ours was the safest from earthquakes, so he bought it and built a nice home there -- which promptly burned to the ground.

If I still lived in the New Madrid fault zone, I'd be pleased as punch about today's quake as it was big enough to remove some of the pressure from the grinding plates but small enough not to be too damaging. Chances are that today's smaller plate leap forestalled the next Big One there for a while.

LOL - I can only imagine the puppies going nuts and I just have to laugh, Bil.

I hate earthquakes. One of the only things about Cali I dislike. That and the Lakers.

I heard it was felt as far south as Atlanta aera here in South Georgia we didnt even feel it.

It caused damage to buildings in Louisville and shook buildings in Chicago. Local news reports that it was felt as far as Florida and Texas.

There was an after-shock today too, but I didn't feel it. Had no idea until I saw it on the news.

I slept through this one, but we've had several over the past 20 or so years. Maybe the New Madrid Fault is waking up again after what? 15-170 years?

The Dipsea Trail, which went very near our house, also ran alongside the San Andreas fault on the seaward side of the ridge we lived on -- you could see the displacement and the resulting gulley-like gap that was six feet or more high and wide at places. I've crossed it many a time hiking to the beach.

Yes, and then there's that short stretch of I-15 that runs up the El Cajon pass near San Berdoo that CalTrans has to keep re-sufacing because it runs across the San Andreas fault. That feature in the road has always fascinated me!

As was pointed out in the news, the New Madrid Fault is underground, covered by several hundred feet of topsoil, and the main seismic activity tends to happen several miles deep. In many places in California, the San Andreas Fault runs right to the top and can be seen as a surface feature for miles.

From Marla, above:

unlike in California where the plates are very fractured and act something like fire breaks against the vibrations' spread, Eastern U.S. quakes' vibrations can travel long distances without anything to stop them.

Wikipedia says something very similar:

...large quakes have the potential for more widespread damage than major quakes on the west coast. Additionally, the area affected will be larger since beyond the rift zone itself there are few other faults to attenuate the seismic waves.

So apparently, earthquakes in the Midwest happen less often, but have the potential for more damage over a larger area. It is interesting that few Midwesterners know this.