Friday, April 18, 2008

Indiana Tremors

If you were awake, like me, around 4:40 a.m. you might have felt the earth tremble slightly... it's not your imagination. It was an earthquake.

The desk and floor in my home office began vibrating, shaking the chair I was sitting on at the time. I heard light cracking sounds in the walls. Nothing fell off the cluttered shelves in my office, though.

It lasted about a minute.

Thinking I had imagined the whole thing, I went to the stairs and called up to my husband, "Did you feel that, too?"

He had just gone up to bed after a long night of work (nightshift at the plant) and hadn't yet fallen asleep. He said he had felt the whole bed shake and heard a few things clanking together up there. He felt a second, much lighter shaking happen about a minute after the first (while we were talking).

What an awesome experience.

About 15 minutes after the tremors stopped, we went online and checked the USGS site to see how big it was and where the epicenter occurred.

By that time there was only 1 event listed on the site, 19 miles SSE of Olney, Illinois -- a 5.4 magnitude -- and it had received only 139 reports in 114 zip codes with a maximum intensity of five (V).

There is a section where you can report your experiences after a quake has occurred in your area.

Naturally, I clicked the link, completed the form, and by the time I submitted my family's experience they had already set up a second event reporting link (21 miles SW of Vincennes, Indiana) which had received 3,752 reports from 1285 zip codes with a maximum intensity of 8 (VIII).

As I type this, there is now only the Vincennes listing -- downgrading it to a 5.2 magnitude quake -- with 8580 total reports. This may change since most of the data coming in is consolidated and revised every few minutes. You can check it out here.

That's another first for me, since moving to Indiana.

So far, I've seen my first small tornado whip right across our front lawn, my first eyewitness of a meteorite bursting into flames as it fell to earth (during the Superbowl between the Bears and the Colts) ...and now my first experience of an earthquake, even though the epicenter was quite a distance away.

It reminds me again of the awesome wonder and power of natural occurrences and the strong, yet at the same time fragile, nature of our tiny planet.

All I can say now is...


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