Earthquake 2011. East Coast Style. Did the Earth Move For You?

Earthquake Face by Bethany King

Earthquake Face by Bethany King

Over the last month, New Jersey has experienced an earthquake, and got blasted by Hurricane Irene.  I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz with all the freaky weather and hoping my house doesn’t fall on the Wicked Witch of the West. We all know how that story played out.

But I wanted to address the earthquake that hit the east coast first in this article and in a subsequent article, about the hurricane.  All I have to say this summer has been better than a blockbuster movie. Heat, earthquake, and then hurricane.  What’s next?  The blizzard of 2011?  (Anna, don’t even go there.)

The Earthquake that Shook the Mall. Run to Bloomingdale’s for Cover

Just because I am poking fun at the earthquake doesn’t diminish that it scared people and was quite frightening especially for those that had to evacuate their buildings.  So, what is a little rumbling among friends?

The funny thing is that this  quake wasn’t a once in a decade quake to hit New Jersey.  In facet, in 2009, a neighboring town experienced an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 3.0.  It sounded like a sonic boom.  Funny thing is, my tile in my bathroom mysteriously cracked sometime thereafter.  Could it had been that quake?  Who knows?

Oddly, the last quake in the New York area was in South Plainfield, New Jersey on June, 2011.  Registering at 1.6 magnitude.  Didn’t feel anything.

Then came the big one this month.  Yes, the one that freaked us high strung easterners out.  The “big one” that was downgraded from a 5.9 to a 5.8 magnitude stemming from an epicenter northwest of Richmond, Virginia.  Heck, it was downright exciting.  Why should California have all the fun?

Now, you can’t blame east coasters for being drama queens and kings. We have Broadway, you know. Don Blakeman, a geophysicist at the USGS stated,

“[i]t’s actually about 6 kilometers deep, which is pretty typical for quakes in the East,” he said. “They’re very shallow.”

He further stated,

“[t]he crust in the Eastern part of the U.S. carries the quake much more energetically,” Blakeman said. “This will have been felt all the way up into New England, West, and down into the Carolinas.”

It all comes down to the bedrock, people. (No, not the Flintstones.)  The East coast is one big slab so a quake is felt throughout.  Whereas, the west coast’s bedrock is more scattered so quakes are felt more locally.

Where was I? Typing a post on Green Talk, when all the sudden it felt like 10 kids were jumping on my bed for about 30 seconds.  Then all of the sudden, the whole house swayed.  I felt like I was dizzy.  That had to be the most surreal thing to happen.

Check out live video from the Star Ledger office showing the lamp shaking.  Look at the reactions of the staffers as the building shook.


Tells You How Much We Rely on Social Network Sites

Luckily, hubby was home and he confirmed what I felt.  Instead of calling the police I looked online to see what the heck happened.  Since the news hadn’t posted on the web, I turned to Twitter and Facebook and of course, updated my status.  In fact, I wasn’t the only one.  Facebook spokesperson, Andrew Noyes, reported that 3 million mentions of “earthquake” in their users’ status updates.

Twitter, on the other hand, reported that within a minute of the earthquake, there were more than 40,000 quake tweets.

Jodi Olson, a spokeswoman for Twitter stated  at one point Twitter recorded “about 5,500 tweets per second, more than Osama bin Laden’s death and on par with the Japanese quake.”

Just goes to show you  how much people and businesses rely on social media.  Even I got Facebook comments immediately after I posted my question about what the heck happened.  Lisa Sharp ( my in the know girl) of Retro Housewife Goes Green, and fellow green mom carnival member, shot me a link which explained about the earthquake.  Others mentioned they had felt it too.  Wow, do I love Facebook.  Dorothy could have really used Facebook when she landed on the Wicked Witch of the West.

Comments About the Earthquake

Throughout the web, there were different reactions.  Some started with “OMG, I felt it.”  Others quipped about how lame it was.   I even saw a tweet about how fracking might have caused the earthquake.  Interesting thought.  Some of my favorites were:

From Grist:  “Oh, the humanity! I understand there was a tsunami SIX inches high, too!”

From “My jello did the shimmy while my desk chair changed into a vibrator.”  With a reply, “Was it good for you?”  (Why do people have sex on the brain all the time?)

Even the Star Ledger’s ran a piece on earthquake envy for those who felt nothing.

Maybe an Explanation?

5 musician Adam Levine who was in DC stated,

 “Ok. Even GOD is pissed off at Washington now.” And, “Looks like we brought our California earthquake mojo to DC. Oops.”

Or via

“VA QUAKE BREAKING NEWS!!! The USGS has determined that the epicenter of the Va earthquake was in a graveyard just outside of DC. The cause appears to be all of our Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves.”

Why Should We Care?

Even though, I am poking fun at the earthquake, the serious side is that two nuclear plants had to be taken off line in Virginia.  An article in Mother Jones, states,

“One reason is that nearby nuclear power plants are only designed to withstand a magnitude 5.9-to-6.1 quake, leading the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to shut down at least two Virginia plants even though an NRC spokesman said that “as far as we know, everything is safe.” One plant lost power just after the quake and turned to diesel generators for backup. Still, the event raises questions about the safety of nuclear power plants and what the impact of a really big quake could be.”

In addition, the National Cathedral and possibly the Washington Monument were both damaged.  Thirdly, although scientist haven’t conclusively tied earthquakes and volcanoes to climate change, some feel that climate change is not limited to the atmosphere.

“As Grist‘s Christopher Mims reported after the Fukushima earthquake, “At a 2009 conference on the subject, experts outlined a range of mechanisms by which climate change could already be causing more earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity, albeit of a scale and nature quite different from Friday’s tragedy.” [Source.]

Join the Conversation

  • Where were you when the “big one” hit?  Did the Earth move for you? You don’t want to be one of those “guys” who felt nothing.
  • Did you update your status once the earthquake hit?  (Hell, yeah?)
  • Did anything break or move in your house or office?
  • Do you have a favorite comment you saw on the internet about the quake?
  • Do you believe earthquakes and volcanoes are being caused by climate change?

Tomorrow, my commentary about the hurricane.  I have some choice words for Irene.

 Photo by Bethany King

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