Saturday, April 11, 2009

My only earthquake, 25 years ago on Easter

I experienced my only earthquake on Easter Sunday, 23 April 1984. I had been in Lancaster, PA, for a year, my 1-year old son was sleeping upstairs, my wife and I were sitting in the kitchen. All of a sudden we heard a low rumble, and then kind of a boom. My wife thought maybe there had been a truck accident, or an explosion in our boiler, both common reactions to eastern earthquakes. Geophysicist that I am, I realized immediately it was an earthquake (perhaps assisted by the fact that a foreshock had occurred during the previous week). This was the best kind of earthquake – exciting, a little cracked plaster, some data for seismologists to play with, but no one hurt, almost no damage. Reports from F&M said that during the showing of the weekend movie (before the days of DVDs), people had panicked and run outdoors. This would make it intensity V on the Modified Mercalli Scale.

The cooperation that event fostered between seismologists at Millersville University and Columbia University was important in the development of the group that led to this blog.

Now my two sons are grown up, and living in the San Francisco Bay area. I hope they don't experience anything worse than a magnitude 4 earthquake.

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