I’m The Science Guy: Quake Edition

Earthquakes are felt farther in the east than the west because our crust is older, colder and harder. It just transmits vibration more efficiently.

I walked into the Hartford Courant building this afternoon and immediately ran into Hans Keck. Hans is our security chief and he didn’t look happy. There had been an earthquake. The drapes upstairs in the newsroom were swinging. We got into the elevator.

Note to self: Aren’t you supposed to avoid elevators in earthquakes? Damn.

By the time we got to the third floor the shaking had stopped, but the buzz was loud!

I’m used to being in newsrooms. The level of ‘newsiness’ is proportional to the level of sound. Something was obviously afoot.

I started yelling out in the general direction of those in charge. I know where to get seismograph printouts. I know geologists. How could I help?

A few minutes later I was on FoxCT with Brent Harden. We were reporting on the magnitude 5.9 earthquake in Virginia. It was felt up and down the East Coast.

As a meteorologist I am expected to be a science generalist. I’m supposed to know a little about a lot of scientific pursuits. I know quakes!

I had gone to my ‘go-to’ websites for maps and plots which we began to show on the air. Much of my specific Virginia earthquake knowledge came in the moments leading to being on-the-air. The USGS has a wealth of location specific info on their site if you just know where it’s hidden.

Today’s quake happened in an area known for seismic activity. There have been quakes before. There are no mapped fault lines there, but that’s not unusual. Most fault lines are quietly anonymous.

The quake was felt most strongly in a southwest to northeast line. That’s why Connecticut experienced some of the shake.

Earthquakes are felt farther in the east than the west because our crust is older, colder and harder. It just transmits vibration more efficiently.

Luckily damage is minor. Few lives have been disturbed. Now I can go back to concentrating on Irene.

11 thoughts on “I’m The Science Guy: Quake Edition”

  1. What time did it shake in CT? I felt some shaking while parked in Stamford between 14:06:25 and 14:09:26 EDT. I thought the van’s engine had just burped. It felt like being on a bridge when a truck drives over.

  2. Geoff, that area of VA does have a known fault. Lake Anna (and its nuclear power station) has an “active” fault running right below it. Lake Anna Nuclear Power Station shut down….the safety tripped. I know that the East Coast is “complex” as far as faults are concerned. I also heard that hydro-fracking was being done in that area (Mineral VA). If you recall, in Germany they banned hydro-fracking because it cause earthquakes.

  3. HYDRO-FRACKING is real cause for concern, who really knows the damage it is really causing. This kind of drilling could put millions at risk,BUT, the gas drilling companies think there is no truth to it (just like climate change) So far, this quake was a minor event,but, who knows if this fracking woke a sleeping giant?? Only time will tell! AND, with IRENE headed north, who knows what kind, if any, interaction this could result in.

  4. Was in Danbury when it happened. Saw the light post shake, turned down the radio to hear if a truck or train went by and noticed my car was shaking too. I said this is an earthquake!!! I have never experienced one till today. It was pretty creepy, but cool! Lets ride the ride again!

  5. You can google “Arkansas-earthquakes-fracking” to see what’s been happening there. They actually asked them to stop fracking just to see if the “mini” quakes would stop, and my understanding is that they did die down. So, we have data right here in the US that may support a “cause and effect” hypothesis. I know the right-wing radio and TV shows are calling anyone who sees a connection “a nut job.” What does the scientific community think?

  6. I was getting out of my car and walking to the office in Westport. Didn’t feel a thing. But when I got in, people were looking startled and walking around to see if other people had seen things shaking. Dang, I missed it! Oh well.

    (I’m just glad no one got hurt and there was only minor damage that can be repaired.)

  7. I didn’t feel it over here in Brooklyn, but I certainly remember all the mini-quakes we had in Thompson in the late 80’s and early 90’s. We thought it was just because our house was built not far from a good-sized drop off of land, but many other people felt them too.

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