They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

4.2 on the Richter Scale



West Michigan.

An earthquake in West Michigan? WTF?

Yup. A magnitude 4.2 earthquake, centered four miles south of Galesburg MI, which is east of Kalamazoo, and four miles down.

And. We. Missed. It.

Seismic data from Fermilab in Batavia IL. Timestamp along bottom is in CDT. via Facebook.
©2015 Fermilab (All Rights Reserved)

"The earthquake struck at 12:23 p.m. roughly 5 miles south of Galesburg at a depth of 3.7 miles beneath the ground, the USGS says."

This is not the first time this has happened to us, but we were driving to Grand Haven MI along the back roads when the earthquake "hit". Never even noticed it. Once again. We only found out when someone at Bekins mentioned the quake about an hour and a half later after we ordered a new refrigerator and stove. Of course our house shudders every now and then anyway. It's built on sand which transmits sounds and vibrations quite well and there are a few people who do Big Things moving dirt and rocks around for fun and profit. Plus people playing with explosives.

As I've mentioned before, we have a very low success rate with observing natural phenomena in West Michigan, which made the 5 April 2015 Lunar eclipse sighting so wonderful.

Capsule infographic from the United States Geological Survey via Facebook. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2015 USGS (All Rights Reserved)

To the people of California, Alaska and all around the Pacific Ring of Fire, I know you're laughing at a 4.2 quake. But come on, it's the second strongest earthquake recorded in Michigan ever! 4.6 in Coldwater MI on 9 August 1947 wins top honors. That was 68 years ago. 24,738 days! I'm pretty sure the 1960s earthquake that cracked the plaster along the stairs in the house I grew up in back in Medina in Western New York was stronger? Hmm, nothing listed in the Northeast above a 5 in the early 60s. Well, it was 75 year old plaster. Anyway, the point is: You can shovel snow, it's harder to shovel an earthquake or a hurricane. Why the hell do you think we live in West Michigan?

Best story on the news last night was the pastor of a small church who was giving a sermon when the quake struck -- on why it was important for them to raise money for relief in Nepal, devastated just a week ago by a powerful quake. The newspapers last week had human interest stories from the Grand Rapids immigrant and international student community about residents here concerned about finding out what happened to their families and loved ones in Nepal.

Strongest part of the quake was in a thirty mile swath. Motion of around 3cm/sec. Allendale is located at the upper left, in the middle blue LIGHT range. via MLIve.
©2015 USGS (All Rights Reserved)

A WMU Geology prof on the Channel 3 News last night reiterated that this was unusual but not common. Indeed, most Michigan earthquakes original outside of the state. A number of quakes in 1811-12 were connected to the New Madrid Fault in Missouri, which is still a ticking time bomb for the Midwest. And in the U.P., the Keweenaw had some quakes a hundred years ago that were probably collapsing copper mines below.

This particular fault lit up quite well, so it is now fairly well defined. Especially good, since this fault was unknown at noon yesterday.

But I was sure, after the recent reports from Oklahoma, that someone was going to bring up fracking.

And I was not disappointed -- less than twenty-four hours after the quake I saw the first hysterical article posted on Facebook about a possible connection to Michigan allowing high volume horizontal fracturing. Now, to be truthful -- as a scientist, I have no idea. But last I heard the fracking was only approved recently? Ah, 2010. Are any wells actually active? Or are people mistaking the old low yield salt water injection wells that have been running since like the 1930s in West Michigan? Seems there are a handful of operations since 2011-13. (Note microscopic print from the Dept. of Environmental Quality.) We'll see how this develops.

The wags got out early. The photo is stock -- the same Rebuild message was used in Melbourne and several other places. Truthfully, a few bricks fell out of a chimney near the site and we know one person in Grand Rapids who got a crack in a plaster wall. I am sure there was more damage, but we're talking small potatoes here.
©2015 (All Rights Reserved)

Despite having effectively missed the event, this is what passes for news here. Wonder if the folks arriving for Tulip Time in Holland MI were exited about all this?

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
Tags: earthquakes, michigan, west michigan

  • All The Bond Movies At Once

    After days with highs on one K-zoo electronic sign of 77, 79 and 77 this week, a cold front has moved through. The temp dropped below freezing after…

  • Eastern Standard All The Time

    Originally I was going to write and post this before DST2007 dropped out of effect for 2015, but I missed the time. Indeed, I am writing this during…

  • Yes, Chef!

    We don't usually do Friday night movies, but this is at least the second one this year -- we saw Tomorrowland (DW) (LJ) back in May (and amusingly…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.