Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Arkansas gets the biggest earthquake in 35 years
My sincere sympathies and acknowledgments to the people in Christchurch, New Zealand, who can tell you that earthquakes are a frightening thing to experience.
In that regard, this goes out to the people in Arkansas and the other states near the New Madrid fault line...and my post at
Oh. And while I'm making a note of this for you, let me remind those folks in eastern Washington: you damn fools, get the hell away from Mt. Rainier and stop trying to build homes near its slopes. That volcano is dormant, but not for long.
Largest earthquake in 35 years hits Arkansas
GREENBRIER, Ark. – The central Arkansas town of Greenbrier has been plagued for months by hundreds of small earthquakes, and after being woken up by the largest quake to hit the state in 35 years, residents said Monday they're unsettled by the increasing severity and lack of warning.
The U.S. Geological Survey recorded the quake at 11 p.m. Sunday, centered just northeast of Greenbrier, about 40 miles north of Little Rock. It was the largest of more than 800 quakes to strike the area since September in what is now being called the Guy-Greenbrier earthquake swarm.
The activity has garnered national attention and researchers are studying whether there's a possible connection to the region's natural gas drilling industry. The earthquake activity varies each week, though as many as nearly two dozen small quakes have occurred in a day. "You don't know what to expect. It's unnerving," said Corinne Tarkington, an employee at a local flower and gift shop. "I woke up last night to the sound of my house shaking."
What woke Tarkington was a magnitude 4.7 earthquake that was also felt in Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi. No injuries or major damage have been reported, but the escalation in the severity of quakes in and around the small north-central Arkansas town has many residents on edge. Some said they're seeing gradual damage to their homes, such as cracks in walls and driveways.
"We probably had 40 to 50 calls last night," Greenbrier police Sgt. Rick Woody said, noting that the tone of the calls had changed. After pervious quakes, most callers simply wanted to find out if a loud noise they'd heard was an earthquake, he said. "The fear had calmed down until last night," Woody said Monday. "People's biggest concerns (now) are whether or not these earthquakes are going to get any bigger."
Scott Ausbrooks, seismologist for the Arkansas Geological Survey, said Sunday's record quake was at the "max end" of what scientists expect to happen, basing that judgment on this swarm and others in the past. It's possible that a quake ranging from magnitude 5.0 to 5.5 could occur, but anything greater than that is highly unlikely, he said "This quake actually scared folks," he said. "It lasted longer than a lot of the others did."