April 18, 2008

Earthquake!

I've never — and I'm pretty old — felt something and known that's an earthquake. I've felt some very mild things and thought it might be an earthquake, but last night — here in Madison, Wisconsin — that was an earthquake.
A 5.4 magnitude earthquake hit southern Illinois early this morning just before 4:37 a.m., with tremors from the earthquake felt all the way north to Madison.

Paul Logan, dispatch supervisor at the Dane County 911 center, said about two dozen calls came in to the center and to other police departments around the county between 4:50 and 5:00 a.m., from people wondering what was going on.
I can't imagine calling the police over that, but somehow 2 dozen of my neighbors did. What's their motivation? How do their minds work? Maybe when you live in a liberal outpost in the bleak Midwest, and the war goes on and the news media ask a candidate why he doesn't wear a flag pin, you get needy and you turn to government to find meaning when anything seems amiss.

ADDED: New Madrid awakening?

91 comments:

AJ Lynch said...

Damn are you awake yet?

So your calculus is :

Lib town + bleak Midwest (Obama writing your posts now?) + debate last night + flags + mild quake = pesky and needy neighbors?

MadisonMan said...

Slept right through it.

I will posit that 911 centers in conservative places like southern Illinois also received phone calls. The conditioning is to call 911 when there's an emergency. If your mind can't process what's going on, I think some interpret that as emergency-like.

rhhardin said...

Ohio had one some weekend in the 70s when I was alone tending a computer (your job is your hobby if you're a nerd), and a tape write ring unaccountably fell off a tape drive. Unfortunately I didn't think anything of it. But then who would I call? Maybe I'd remark to a guard on the way out later.

dr kill said...

You already knew the answer to your questions. And I agree with you. Your neighbors are mind-controlled children of the sissy-state. The cops are as useful in an earthquake as they are in a burglary. They all are unpaid workers for the insurance industry. After they finish their donut, they show up with a case number for your claim.

rdkraus said...

Those of us who are the same age as you are would prefer that you not remind us that we are "pretty old," even if it's true.

Greg in Madtown said...

I was awake, but didn't feel it. Maybe I was cabbing home from work.

Way back when, I experienced one in Granada, Spain, the day I turned 14. I was thrilled, because I thought I was staying in a "fancy" hotel because it had a vibrating bed.

Der Hahn said...

Slept through this one, though the last one (1990'ish, can't remember the exact year) came in the afternoon and I did feel that one.

The 911 callers could have been conservatives so shaken that they threw down their bibles and guns, realized their bitterness was misdirected, and turned to the government as their true comfort in time of need.

AllenS said...

Earthquakes make me bitter.

Bob said...

Maybe when you live in a liberal outpost in the bleak Midwest, and the war goes on and the news media ask a candidate why he doesn't wear a flag pin, you get needy and you turn to government to find meaning when anything seems amiss.

Nice sense of irony, Ann. Wonder how many will get the joke?

Bob said...

And you didn't say, but I presume you are ok?

Simon said...

Woke me up and all!

Sloanasaurus said...

Natural disasters are another reason to own firearms, in case you find out that your neighbors are not really your friends.

I am still waiting to hear Obama's plan about how he is going to lower the price of gas. Maybe his gas plan is bundled up with his other plans to raise massive taxes on the middle class.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I've felt a few tremors here before but that one was shaking my bed pretty good. My daughter came in our room eyes wide as saucers saying that her whole room was shaking.

Yesteday it was UFOs over Kokomo and now this. Although they say it was the AIR NG doing training but that's IF you believe the 'official story'.

I blame Bush.

Pogo said...

I am in Chicago today. I was battling insomnia (still) at the time and thought it was merely an undigested bit of beef or a fragment of an underdone potato.

All of the local new stations, but CNN as well, were breathlessly discussing the nonevent of people feeling the bed move a little bit.

One channel discovered a guy who ran over a piece of exposed rebar on a bridge and blew 2 tires. The talking heads immediately concluded that the earthquake caused it. Another woman, happy as a kid finding out school was cancelled due to snow, questioned sullen workers exiting the subway. "I asked if they felt it, and some did but others looked at me like I was nuts."

No kidding. Usually the crazy street people are trying to sell you a copy of "Street News" for a dollar. I'd say Sell crazy someplace else, lady, we're all stocked up here.

You think people are helpless now?
Just wait.
America's motto is slowly changing to "Please wait until provided instructions by the authorities.".

Triangle Man said...

The transcripts of the calls were just released. Two dozen nearly identical exchanges along these lines:

911 Operator: Ja? what seems to be the problem?

Caller: Say we just woke up with the room shaking. It's probably nothing, but the missus thought I should call it in. So I called it in. End of story.

911 Operator: Well thanks a bunch. You're right, it's probably nothing, but thanks for calling her in.

Caller: Looks like she's gonna turn cold tomorrow.

911 Operator: Oh ja, they say a fronts comming in.

Caller: You got that right.

Paul Snively said...

The New Madrid fault had a 5.4 earthquake? That's great news!

bearbee said...

Earthquake Severity
Richter Earthquake Magnitudes Effects

Less than 3.5 Generally not felt, but recorded.

3.5-5.4 Often felt, but rarely causes damage.

Under 6.0 At most slight damage to well-designed buildings. Can cause major damage to poorly constructed buildings over small regions.

6.1-6.9 Can be destructive in areas up to about 100 kilometers across where people live.

7.0-7.9 Major earthquake. Can cause serious damage over larger areas.

8 or greater Great earthquake. Can cause serious damage in areas several hundred kilometers across.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

I have never called 911 so I guess I am conservative-cool.

Also, I was in Madison last weekend-it didn't appear that liberal to me. I was expecting more hippies.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

Also, Madison needs to do something with big parts of their lakefront.

Can you get working on that Althouse?

al said...

I was awake at the time (NW suburbs of Chicago) and didn't notice anything. The dog did come out of the bedroom about that time and my wife said she startled awake and looked at the alarm clock and it was 4:36.

al said...

Natural disasters are another reason to own firearms, in case you find out that your neighbors are not really your friends.

Excellent advice. I tend to worry more about the visitors who decide that looting the destruction is better than working for a living.

WRT to Saint Obama - back in 1996 Obama voted to prohibit the confiscation of firearms during an emergency or natural disaster. Hillary was one of 16 senators to oppose the amendment (support the confiscation). Of course with Obama we probably won't have any guns to confiscate...

MadisonMan said...

sloan, I think you are paranoid. A disaster strikes and you think of shooting your neighbors because they're not friendly.

So the neighbor in me comes to your house to make sure you're okay and I get a load of lead. Charming.

Theo Boehm said...

I'm from Southern California. We never got out of bed for anything less that a 6.0, and that only to see if the cable TV still worked.

We occasionally get a little jolt here in Massachusetts, and it's always all over the news.

It's like fog. They don't know fog here. What they call fog in Massachusetts is a clear day in San Francisco. On the other hand, we didn't know snow in California, so I suppose it all evens out.

Advice from someone grown up on the Pacific Rim to those not used to earthquakes: Deal.

Tibore said...

Why the hell would you call 911 to report an earthquake? Yeah, if I heard yelling and screaming, or saw a building collapse, yes. But just feel a lil rattle and nothing more? No!

If there's no need for emergency services, people's time is better spent reporting the tremor to the US Geologic Survey's earthquake page: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/

Leave the poor 9/11 operators to deal with things they're supposed to deal with. If it doesn't involve the police, fire department, or ambulance service, it doesn't need to go to 9/11. The rule's that damn simple.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

Also, East Washington is a complete and total mess. That is one ugly street.

It should be a fabulous boulevard with fabulous shops, restaurants, cafes, bookstores, special soap stores, fabulous clubs, gyms, yoga studios, hollistic places and a bunch of other shit where people can walk. It would be a fabulous entrance to the capitol building.



Fancy lights and landscaping would help that nasty street too. Cute little bridges over that little river, festive parks, a doggy area, flags on the light poles and somewhere to buy diesel and fcuk (at least)-

Instead it is a nasty ugly piece of shit with The Avenue Bar which is so ugly and some nasty strip malls with crappy businesses.

Get on some committee or something Althouse and make it work.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

I would never call 911 for anything because that is something some needy liberal would do.

Just the other day I saw a women being raped outside my window but I wasn't going to call no 911.

I was like bitch deal with it.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

And don't get me starting with West Washington, which thinks its fabulous now because it put up a few condos.

john said...

Earthquakes make me clingy.

Trooper York said...

Sam Royce: Give me your panty hose damnit.
Sgt. Lew Slade: Earthquakes bring out the worst in some people.
(Earthquake, 1974)

MadisonMan said...

I agree that East Wash is ugly, but it is a major traffic conduit into town. That's why the sidewalks are right next to the road, they've widened it as much as possible, and pedestrians avoid walking on roads right next to traffic.

West Wash is more boulevard-y, there's a nice grass terrace between sidewalk and road. The influx of people actually living in the overbuilt condos gives one hope of its continued slow development.

There was a tornado warning in SE Wisconsin in early January -- not a time when one expects tornadoes at all -- and a whole lot of people called 911 when they heard the sirens.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

I have fantasized about doing it in an earthquake.

Usually my tricks say when doing it with me they feel the earth move.

I would love to do it when the earth actually did move.

Doing it in a hurricane could be cool too.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

Actually doing it in any inclement weather is of interest to me.

Or not-I am fine doing it in normal weather too.

But inclement weather sex does interest me.

There's a little Asian lady outside my window at the bus stop laughing away-she is hilarious.

Simon said...

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...
"Also, I was in Madison last weekend-it didn't appear that liberal to me."

You live in New York, for crying out loud. That's like going from Fairbanks to Whitehorse and saying the latter doesn't seem that cold to you.

PatCA said...

They called the police, LOL?

We are tough here in California. I was working in court one day, and a witness was testifying. We suddenly felt the building shudder. It was obviously an earthquake. The witness paused, we all look around, and then the witness continued talking as the shuddering stopped. The trial continued until the afternoon break.

Life goes on.

Roger J. said...

Probably the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone--Richter scale doesnt tell you much. Mercalli shake indices better describe ground susceptibility to shaking where damage is likely to occur. Go to the cusec.org web site for more information along with the USGS web sites. There have been a swarm of aftershocks.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

For some reason I have no interest in doing it in a tornado though.

Not sure why, just doesn't get me excited.

Too gay-Wizard of Oz and all that goes along with it.

john said...

Titus,

I hope that little Asian lady laughing was not the same one you saw getting raped earlier. If so, she's got a great attitude.

rhhardin said...

When the tornado sirens go off, I go out on the bicycle. The sky turns an eerie green and everything's still. It's really cool.

Some barn somewhere is knocked down for the cameras.

It's hard to believe the sirens anymore, because they test them all the time. Often nothing whatever is to be seen, and you lose interest.

Trooper York said...

Auntie Em: Now you go feed those hogs before they worry themselves into anemia!
(The Wizard of Oz, 1939)

Titus is right once again. Auntie Em is worried about hog in a tornado. It's all about the hog.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

cold pizza said...

Charlie Richter made a scale for calibrating earthquakes
Gives a true and lucied reading every time the earth shakes
Measurements are incremental numbers "oh" to "nine"
When the first shock hit the 'seizmo everything worked fine
-"Richter Scale" by J. Kent Clark

-cp

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Advice from someone grown up on the Pacific Rim to those not used to earthquakes: Deal

LOL Theo. I'm in California. You're right less than a 6.0 big deal.

Another tip from earthquake country. Put double sticky tape on the bottom of those fragile collectibles on the book shelf so they don't get broken in a small 4.0 or so. Double sticky tape on the pictures as well so they don't get crooked. Nothing more annoying than having to go around and straighten up after an eeensy 3.0 quake.

So what did the people calling 911 expect to happen? "OMG the earth is shaking....make it stop" LOL

Deal.

John K. said...

"Maybe when you live in a liberal outpost in the bleak Midwest, and the war goes on and the news media ask a candidate why he doesn't wear a flag pin, you get needy and you turn to government to find meaning when anything seems amiss."

Anarchist!

Apparently the same earthquake was felt up here in northern Indiana too, but I'm not as motivated as Ann to be up at that ungodly hour.

Simon Kenton said...

I was in the Sylmar quake in Southern California. I remember 2 things I found impressive because they were so non-normal:

- buildings are normally pretty silent. Ours was creaking loudly from parallelogram racking.

- a wave, like a water wave in shape but a moving hump of wood and carpet, swept across the floor toward me, and staggered me when it passed under my feet.

Yes, it's stupid to call 911 and rat out the earthquake as if it were a perp. But, if you bombard the citizenry with messages that say, "We're the professionals here. You're the victims. Don't ever try to handle this or anything else yourselves," then you can expect all but the crustiest and most self-reliant to sink gratefully into victimry and call you. For everything.

Ann Althouse said...

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said..."I have fantasized about doing it in an earthquake. Usually my tricks say when doing it with me they feel the earth move."

The earthquake was like an orgasm, a weak orgasm, but it disturbs me greatly to think of myself as one of millions of midwesterners lying in bed last night, having a big simultaneous orgasm together.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said..."For some reason I have no interest in doing it in a tornado though. Not sure why, just doesn't get me excited. Too gay-Wizard of Oz and all that goes along with it."

LOL.

rhhardin said..."When the tornado sirens go off, I go out on the bicycle. The sky turns an eerie green and everything's still. It's really cool."

So, you mean, you do your Miss Gulch imitation? I love the forthrightness about the Wizard of Oz thing.

former law student said...

Unlike fractured California, the Midwest lies on top of huge plates which ring like a gong with any earthquake. I remember one in the early 70s, late at night while studying. The swag lamps swayed on their chains, and the pictures vibrated against the wall as if a train were going by. I turned on the radio to hear what was going on, but I did not call the police.

Paddy O. said...

We are tough here in California.

Well...

5.4 is a nice, respectable earthquake in my opinion. The kind that might wake a person up, and is the sort that leads to "did you feel it" conversations throughout the day. Usually they're so short, though, that just when you get excited about it it's all over. Just a big jolt.

The bigger ones like to linger, giving you all the time in the world to think about how the earth is rolling beneath your feet. Very awe inspiring.

JohnAnnArbor said...

I've felt three earthquakes in the last 20 years or so in Michigan. One was a 5.5 centered under Lake Erie (on a fault that had been unknown before the quake). Gets your attention, probably started some plaster cracks, and surprising, but not a reason to call 911.

Didn't feel this one.

It would be really bad if it's New Madrid foreshocks.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

I thought I was having a dream early this morning (which I thought was weird because it's weird for me to know I'm dreaming or have dreamt). Rolled over and went back to sleep. But at around 10:15 this morning, the large molly-bolted mirror in the bedroom started shaking. At that point, I thought ... wait a minute ... and checked the 'net/news for the first time today, which is when I "consciously" learned about the earthquake and its aftershocks.

reader_iam said...

One thing I do like about earthquakes is the chance to use, and hear used, the word "temblor," which I just love, as a word.

John Stodder said...

Advice from someone grown up on the Pacific Rim to those not used to earthquakes: Deal.

I'm a Californian too, but I'd be much more frightened in a midwestern quake.

Unlike here, the building codes in flyover country don't know from earthquakes. If you were in a tall building in Milwaukee during a big quake, it just might fall down. Here, it would just roll around for awhile. Maybe the power would go out and you'd have to use the stairs.

Maybe Obama could make a speech about this quake as a symbol of a "rift" in the U.S. "We're literally tearing each other apart." It's also possible I suppose that Rev. Wright predicted that God Damn America would suffer a catastrophe soon if rich white people continued to run the country and commit terrorist acts all over the world. We might want to look through those tapes again.

mythusmage said...

Last year we had the tag ends of a couple of Atlantic hurricanes make it all the way out here, and did you care? Ha! Now you're getting all tizzified over a piddlin' quake. What's your next feeble maladjustment?

cardeblu said...

I've experienced at least 3 memorable ones here in the PNW--2 shakers and 1 roller. With the shakers, my very first thought was "that's an awfully big truck coming down the road," until realizing what it was.

I'm wondering if this one had any relation to the earthquake swarm just off the Oregon Coast.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

"That's like going from Fairbanks to Whitehorse and saying the latter doesn't seem that cold to you."

I have no idea what the above paragraph means.

The thought of the entire population having an orgasm at the same time does not appeal to me. I don't want to think of 99% of the population ever having an orgasm.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

The Wizard of Oz is really gay.

Surrender Dorothy, Glenda, the wizard, the wicked witch.

Judy Garland

I don't know who is gayer the tin man, the lion or the scarecrow.

They all dance like mad down that yellow brick road.

Oh and the Lollipop Guild-totally gay.

Roger J. said...

We (CUSEC) just got off a national conference call with FEMA regions, the Feds, and affected states--no significant damage to property or infrastructure; no hazmat spills and most important no fatalities and only a few injuries. The Corps of Engineers was still checking levees. I suspect we dodged a big disaster consdering the Mississippi valley and its tributaries are in flood stage right now. Levee breaks would have been catastrophic.

The New Madrid (and the Wabash Valley) are midplate faults, quite deep, and whose effects are multiplied because of alluvial soils that overlay the region. These soils are subject to liquefaction and also transmit and attenduate the shock waves over greater distances.

A quake the size of the 1811-1812 would have catastrophic effects for nearly 20 million people.

George said...

The quake was on the New Madrid Fault.

Three or four quakes in 1811/2 near today's epicenter were among the worst in history (each ranking around 8.1). They caused the Mississippi to flow backwards, the ground the sink, creating Tennessee's huge Reelfoot Lake, and rang churchbells in Charleston and Boston.

The few settlers in northwest Tennessee at the time were puzzled as to why wildlife and Indians fled the area in advance of the first cataclysm.

Kirk Parker said...

Pogo,

Ah, yes, the talking heads. When we had our recent big earthquake in the Puget Sound area, the news anchors were reduced to standing in front of a hospital saying, "This is where they would have brought the casualties, if there had been any."

MadisonMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

A quake the size of the 1811-1812 would have catastrophic effects for nearly 20 million people.

It would cripple rail freight service, for example, when the Bridge across the Mississippi at Memphis is destroyed. And my brother's house on the bluff in Memphis -- not at the edge, but close -- might slide down on to Riverside Dr!

George said...

From the Reelfoot Lake State Park history page...

"Massive landslides occurred along the Mississippi and Ohio River bluffs from Memphis to Indiana. Some ground areas rose or fell as much as 20 feet relative to the surrounding landscape. An 18- to 20-acre area near Piney River in Tennessee sank so low that the tops of the trees were at the same level as the surrounding ground. Whole forests sank below their original level and filled with water to form swamps and shallow lakes. The 18,000 acre Reelfoot Lake was either formed or enlarged during the 1811-12 earthquake episode."

Elsewhere, one learns that the Mississippi flowed backwards for between 10 and 24 hours because that is the amount of time it took to fill the new lake.

reader_iam said...

That's interesting, Roger. Thanks.

Due to this past winter, I've been keeping an eye on the Mississippi, which I can see from my windows, and tracking reports. Here in Davenport, where it's overcast and we're expecting rain over the next few days, the river was to reach 15 feet (what's officially known as "initial flood stage") today; I'm awaiting the update. April 21st-28th is supposed to be the spring crest.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

I felt bad for Eva Gardner in the Earthquake movie. She was dissed by her man.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

Is Davenport a "Quad City"

If so what are the other 3?

reader_iam said...

It is, along with Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline and Rock Island, Illinois.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

Where is Geneseo?

ricpic said...

It's a fairly unnerving experience if you're within a couple of hundred miles of a category 6 or above. About 10 years ago I went through the experience. At that level the jolt is strong enough that not only do you feel it, it can topple lamps and jostle books out of bookcases and plates off tables. Doesn't surprise me at all that people call 911 or the police, if only for psychic reassurance.

reader_iam said...

I should make a point to get out and take some pictures if not today, then tomorrow. The National Weather Service, which put the river at 14.9 earlier today, is predicting that it will go to above 16 feet (moderate flood stage) by the middle of next week, which may mean parts of River Drive go under water. During the last notable flood here (which I don't believe they're worried about this time around), the part of that road at the foot of my street was the only section not closed (about a block's worth). Not that it mattered, because you couldn't go anywhere on it, but you could closer to take pictures.

I should dig out those pix, now that I think about it.

reader_iam said...

Geneseo is in Illinois, about 30 miles from here. Good grief, why?

reader_iam said...

Should I be afraid to ask?

Simon Kenton said...

George noted:

"The few settlers in northwest Tennessee at the time were puzzled as to why wildlife and Indians fled the area in advance of the first cataclysm."

Even more interesting to me is how the great chief Tecumseh apparently prophesied the New Madrid earthquake months in advance, to the day.

Trooper York said...

Hey Titus is on his Wild Hogs tour. He might be coming to (and at) a location near your.

Paul Snively said...

Theo Boehm: Advice from someone grown up on the Pacific Rim to those not used to earthquakes: Deal.

Advice from someone grown up on the New Madrid fault and familiar with the 1811 quake: stick to talking about what you actually understand.

chuckR said...

Any word which fault zone James Wolcott is rooting for?

I was in a Toyko low rise during a Richter 6+, except the Richter scale is not appropriate, or so I'm told, and the papers almost certainly exaggerated the magnitude as they do everything. No cabinets/files fell over but you'd have had a tough time walking. Building was on a corner and quarter round shaped - made me wonder if the shape accentuated the shaking. I hope that was a personal once in a lifetime experience.

reader_iam said...

Hey Titus is on his Wild Hogs tour. He might be coming to (and at) a location near your.

That oughta liven things up around here!

Pal2Pal said...

Living in California, I've been thru more earthquakes, including most of the major ones of the last 40 years, than I can remember, but I never ever expected to wake up to calls from extended family in Indianapolis saying they had experienced their first earthquake. Grandson Charlie was truly rattled by the experience, in every sense of the word.

Apparently Indianapolis got a pretty good jolt.

Laika's Last Woof said...

"... millions of midwesterners lying in bed ... having a big simultaneous orgasm together."
They'd call it, "The Rapture".

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Advice from someone grown up on the New Madrid fault and familiar with the 1811 quake: stick to talking about what you actually understand."

Wow, you must be really old!!!

Actually someone else made the point that an earthquake in the Mid West could be more lethal than a comprable one in California because you haven't built to earthquake standards like we have over the years.

Even built to standards, the Loma Prieta (1989)quake did a lot of damage. I was very worried about my family who live in the area. All telephone communication from the outside was cut off for several days. They could call out, but no inbound calls. Probably all the lines were overloaded.

I think the difference in "dealing" is that we are used to earthquakes and most people who live in the urban areas have grab and go kits and emergency plans in place.

former law student said...

The big difference in the midwest is unreinforced masonry buildings. A brick house seems nice, but it'll be just a pile of bricks after a big quake. A wood-sided one story building is far more likely to survive.

titusisnotcurrentlyhorny said...

I was just curious reader.

I am fairly diverse.

I celebrate diversity.

Also, as Troop is correct.

reader_iam said...

Well, I'll be.

Revenant said...

Actually someone else made the point that an earthquake in the Mid West could be more lethal than a comprable one in California because you haven't built to earthquake standards like we have over the years.

That's part of it, but a bigger factor is the lack of bedrock in a lot of the Mississippi river valley. Much of that area is basically just 50,000 years of accumulated silt. So far as earthquakes are concerned it is sort of like a big Jell-O mold.

I'm annoyed, though -- I can't find a clip of the earthquake scene in LA Story. While that film is commonly mistaken as a Steve Martin comedy, it is actually a documentary of life in southern California circa 1990.

Some of these houses are over twenty years old!

Revenant said...

When we had our recent big earthquake in the Puget Sound area, the news anchors were reduced to standing in front of a hospital saying, "This is where they would have brought the casualties, if there had been any."

Here in San Diego, the anchors have to cover top stories like "that water falling from the sky is called 'rain'". And there usually ARE casualties.

Paul Snively said...

I wish to apologize to Theo Boehm; my tone was uncalled for.

Some have said that the issue is the lack of bedrock in the Mississippi river valley; others have said that the issue is lack of building to California-like earthquake standards. The former may be true of the Mississippi river valley, but much of the area affected by the New Madrid fault is considerably east of that, and the issue is actually exactly the opposite: it's the layer of limestone that, e.g. Bedford, IN is famous for. The result is that the area of effect for seismic activity on the New Madrid fault is significantly wider than you would expect based upon California experience. The New Madrid Seismic Zone entry on Wikipedia has a nice little image comparing the area of effect of the 1994 Northridge quake with the 1895 Charleston, MO quake to help provide a visual basis for comparison.

Mr. Forward said...

Three women are about to be executed. One's a brunette, one's a redhead and one's a blonde.

The guard brings the brunette forward and the executioner asks if she has any last requests. She says no and the executioner shouts,''Ready! Aim!''

Suddenly the brunette yells,
''EARTHQUAKE!!!''

Everyone is startled and throws themselves on the ground while she escapes.

The guard brings the redhead forward and the executioner asks if she has any last requests. She says no and the executioner shouts,
''Ready! Aim!''"

Suddenly the redhead yells,
''TORNADO!!!''

Everyone is startled and looks around for cover while she escapes.

By now the blonde has it all figured out. The guard brings her forward and the executioner asks if she has any last requests. She says no and the executioner shouts,

"Ready! Aim!''

And the blonde yells, ''FIRE!!!"

Trooper York said...

Pssssst. Mr Forward. The Professor is a blonde ya know?

PatCA said...

"Maybe Obama could make a speech about this quake as a symbol of a "rift" in the U.S. "We're literally tearing each other apart."

John,
I think it would be "Earthquakes! They're just a distraction."

blake said...

A Californian in the midwest would probably end up getting crushed by a beam of some non-EQ-safe building.

"Oh, it's just a 4-point-"CLONK!

Fen said...

Ann: I can't imagine calling the police over that, but somehow 2 dozen of my neighbors did. What's their motivation? How do their minds work?

They may have never experienced an earthquake like a 5.4, and the area is not known for them in recent history.

IF they didn't recognize it as an earthquake, they may have wondered if a nearby locale had suffered some kind of terrorist attack.

Ann Althouse said...

It was 5.4 in southern Illinois. Pretty weak here in Madison.

Fen said...

Maybe you should find a tactful way to ask one of them. I'm also curious what their thought process was.