Indiana earthquake measures 3.8, riles heartlanders

Thursday, December 30th, 2010 By

Logo from the Indiana state flag, depicting an outline of the state with a torch in the center that is shooting stars.

The recent Indiana earthquake was measured at 3.8 on the Richter scale. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Chase I/Wikipedia)

According to the Associated Press, the most recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)-measured earthquake hit Indiana Thursday. Five states in all were shaken by a 3.8-magnitude Indiana earthquake that caused little damage but made residents nervous. “Indiana” and “earthquake” are two words that are not commonly associated, although a handful of notable earthquakes in Indiana have occurred over the past 200 years.

Indiana earthquake centered north of Indianapolis

According to the USGS, the earthquake’s epicenter was located about 50 miles north of Indianapolis. The quake began at 7:55 a.m. and was located approximately three miles beneath the surface. The Indiana earthquake lasted just a few seconds, but the 3.8 magnitude trembler was powerful enough to be felt in Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Wisconsin.

Initially, the Indiana earthquake was reported as a 4.2 magnitude earthquake, but the USGS downgraded the earthquake to a 3.8. The booms that accompanied the earthquake in Indiana, while frightening, were not out of the ordinary for an earthquake, said USGS geophysicist Randy Baldwin, but that didn’t stop people from bombarding law enforcement with calls.

No fault lines in the area

Michael Hamburger, a geologist at Indiana University, told local television station WTHR that the Indiana earthquake occurred in an area that is not common for earthquakes, an area that is “seismically very quiet.” Considering that there are no fault lines nearby, it seems odd that there could be much Indiana earthquake history.

Yet as Baldwin put it, wherever stress builds up in the earth’s crust, an earthquake can follow.

A brief Indiana earthquake history

Among the earliest recorded incidents in Indiana earthquake history was the 1811 and 1812 New Madrid earthquakes. This massive series of earthquakes is estimated at anywhere from 7.0 to 7.7 on the Richter scale. The most damaging Indiana earthquake on record was noted on Sept. 27, 1909, near the Illinois border between Vincennes and Terre Haute. While only a 5.1 magnitude quake, its extended nature caused a great deal of structural damage to homes and other buildings. The 1909 quake was felt over 30,000 square miles.


Associated Press

Indiana earthquake history (USGS)

Local TV coverage of Indiana earthquake

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