Friday, April 3, 2015

Ever Been in an Earthquake?

Q:  Have you ever been in a earthquake
--Gretchen H

A:  Yes, I have "been in a earthquake". As a 6-year-old I was thrown out of my bed by a M=7.2 earthquake in Bakersfield, CA, that hit at 3:30 in the morning. My Mom told me later that she called to me to come to her bedroom down the hallway, and that I answered her "I can't. The walls keep hitting me." These were probably the manifestation of Raleigh or surface waves rolling through the ground beneath the house. I do remember standing in the grass outside the house later and listening to sirens until dawn, as the adults talked about what had happened. That's where I first heard the word "earthquake."
    I also felt several earthquakes when I lived for three years in southern Venezuela. One event frightened the other residents of our apartment building so much that they all ran down the stairwell and stood in the street outside.
    You have to be physically in contact with the ground to feel small earthquakes. If you are driving a car or sleeping in a soft bed you may not feel events up to a magnitude of 3 or 4. 

Q: Thanks so much for answering my question.  I bet it felt very scary in the earthquake.

A: The experience wasn't so scary as it was a sleepy mind trying to figure out what was going on. That part took me awhile as a six-year-old. Then it was just sort of being amazed and listening to adults try to explain it as THEY were figuring it out. I remember my Mom, being very frightened, going down into a darkened basement to shut off the natural gas. I felt her fear then, my first fear, mainly for her.  

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