Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Was That an Earthquake?

A lot of people have questions about earthquakes:
Did I feel one?
WILL I feel one?
Can you PREDICT one?
Should I move away from here?
These are fairly typical questions that we receive all the time. For the next few chapters we'll look at what we know and what we don't know about earthquakes.

I live in New Mexico. At Manzano State Park on March 23, 2010 at or around 3:35 was there an earthquake?? 
    We felt one.
    Marty N.

If you go to the following website, you can check on any recent earthquake in the last seven days in the US above a magnitude of 1.0 (M = 1 is generally so small it's not even felt by humans):

You can zoom in on the map that pops up to get more detail. The nearest events to you in the past week were in Oklahoma and Utah, and they are so small that there is zero chance that you may have felt them.

There are other things that can cause "quake-like" vibrations, including a heavy truck or a train passing nearby, or blasting in nearby quarries or during road-building. Once I was reading the Sunday paper and felt my house start shaking. I knew there was a fault nearby, so I called my team's seismologist, who checked (and educated me about this and other seismic websites). He found nothing. I went back to reading and a half hour later I felt the shaking again. THIS time I listened with more than my backside on the couch and heard the clothes washer upstairs reaching the maximum of it's spin cycle. A bit of further checking showed me that about half-way into the fastest spin-rate, the unbalanced washer (it had my heavy Jujitsu Gi in it) was reaching the natural oscillation frequency of my wood-frame house.

That was an Ah-HAH! moment for me. Even scientists are always learning... that's probably the coolest thing about being on this planet.


No comments:

Post a Comment