Ottawa Earthquake Shakes Me Up

earthquake mapAnother earthquake rocked the world today, but thankfully it was nowhere near Japan nor any nuclear plants. The 4.3-magnitude shuffler hit eastern Canada, and waves were felt from Ottawa to Quebec. The epicenter of the quake was 30 miles northwest of Montreal.

An earthquake of that strength is enough to make indoor objects shake, but not strong enough to do any real structural or superficial damage. This one lasted 15 seconds and hit the region around 1:30 p.m. EST today. No injuries or destruction has been reported yet, so Canadians in that area are probably in the clear.

This just in: Canada can have earthquakes, and so can most of the states in the continental U.S. Yikes!


As a kid I was really scared to visit California, convinced I would die in an earthquake, or worse, be wearing something embarrassing when it hit and would have to be rescued in underwear or something. I was also afraid of Hawaiian volcanoes and static electricity. But growing up in Virginia, I thought I was safe from two out of the three.

That changed in the summer of 2008 when an earthquake struck northern Virginia. My dad, alone in the house, had no idea what was going on and thought for a second that the noise and vibration could be caused by a deer that had somehow gotten upstairs. That was almost as likely as an earthquake, everyone thought, but turns out, the east coast is full of fault lines.

Thirty-nine out of our 50 states have moderate to high seismic activity risk. Gulp. The New Madrid Fault Line is particularly scary, and runs through the middle of the Southeast from Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, and Indiana. It was the cause of major quakes in that region during the early 1800s, and geologists predict that Memphis is at great risk for a quake measuring around 7.0-8.0 on the Richter scale. The one just in Japan was 8.9.

Of course no one is suggesting spending your life between door-frames and hoarding bottled water, but I hope the nuclear power plants around the New Madrid Fault line (all 15 of them) are prepared for a large quake. Did I just feel something shake?

What's your take on US earthquake danger?

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