Haiti can happen

A small earthquake in northern Illinois set off car alarms, knocked books off the shelves and jolted scores of people awake at 4 a.m. Wednesday, but otherwise caused no serious damage, officials said.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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23 Responses to Haiti can happen

  1. DisturbedMary says:

    Illinois sits on the largest fault line in the country. http://www.scchealth.org/docs/ems/docs/prepare/newMadrid.html
    Who knew?

    And related sort of, God still owns the weather. God is still in charge not tinpot messiahs. Alleluia, Alleluia.

  2. Brian Day says:

    Living in California, we are all to aware that Haiti can happen.

    Southern California has had an especially wet winter. The recent series of storms has produced thunderstorms (unusual for winter storms) and a couple of tornadoes!
    Most of the locals are resigned to the fact that earthquakes happen. Though tornadoes are so rare that it freaks most people out.

  3. Peggy R says:

    As Disturbed Mary pointed out, we in SO-IL and Eastern MO sit on New Madrid fault. A couple of summers ago, we had morning tremors on a couple of days. I felt the rumble, like a heavy truck making its way down the street toward our home. I felt the house rumble.

    Yet, I recall one year–1990–I had just finished grad school, we were warned that “the big one” was coming–as if it could be predicted. My roommate got me skittish as well. We took things off walls and shelves. Needless to say nothing happened.

    We can’t predict where or when, but we must always be ready–at least spiritually.

  4. caterham says:

    In northeastern Illinois earthquakes are quite rare. The New Madrid fault is in the south side of the state. I’m actually literally just down the road from the epicenter. At 4 a.m I wake up, my closet doors are shaking like someone’s trying to get out, it feels like a car just crashed into the side of my house and I’m wondering if a part of the roof might collapse.

  5. caterham says:

    sorry… just down the road from the epicenter of the one that hit last night… not the New Madrid….

  6. Jenny says:

    I worry about the New Madrid Fault. My father (the structural engineer) says a lot of cities in the fault area don’t have the building codes to withstand a major earthquake, Memphis particularly. Major earthquakes on New Madrid may be rare, but it would be devastating.

    California is ready for earthquakes. The building codes are modern and strict.

  7. IL Catholic says:

    And I slept through it… :(

  8. lucy says:

    Yes, California is ready for earthquakes, but in 1989, as I was negotiating getting to my front door during that huge quake, I was frightened that I wouldn’t get out in time. I lived in Alameda then, a small island just beside Oakland, and the apartment complex was built on landfill and stilts – yikes ! It was very scary for this Pennsylvania girl. All my kitchen things flew out of the cupboards, my bedroom dresser mirror came unfixed and fell and cracked, it was rocking and rolling while I tried to get to my front door, falling down twice in the process. None of us went back inside til the wee hours of that night.

  9. Supertradmom says:

    It will happen in Chicago.

  10. AJP says:

    Peggy R,

    I remember the 1990 “Illinois earthquake rumor.” I was just a kid at the time, and all sorts of ridiculous rumors and talk of it had filtered down to my elementary school. I was absolutely terrified for several days, especially since there was no “official” information on TV or anything like that – just wildly exaggerated rumors. 20 years later I’m still puzzled as to what the heck happened there. Earthquakes can’t be predicted, as everyone knows. How did such a stupid rumor get started?

  11. Dr. Eric says:

    I spent most of my life about 15 minutes from the original capital of Illinois which was destroyed when an earthquake in the New Madrid fault caused the Mississippi river to actually flow backwards and cut through the land causing Kaskaskia Island to be formed. It is one of the few sections of Illinois that lies west of the river and actually can only be reached from Missouri. The island has 9 residents and has a very old Catholic Church.

    http://www.greatriverroad.com/stegen/randattract/kaskchurch.htm

    From Wikipedia, caveat lector:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaskaskia,_Illinois

  12. Jenny says:

    AJP,

    There was a “scientist” who announced that he had figured out how to predict earthquakes. His name was Brown or Browning or something like that. Anyway he predicted a major earthquake on New Madrid on December 3, 1990. I remember the date because I was on a field trip.

  13. Andy Lucy says:

    The earthquake in Illinois was not related to any significant fault line… the nearest seismic zone is the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone to the south. The epicenter of this quake is located in one of the most geologically stable areas of the United States. You just never know exactly what is going on beneath the surface.

    I live in the New Madrid Seismic Zone… just across the river from New Madrid, MO… and I can look out my window and see rift lines from the 1811-12 quakes. If you fly over western Tennessee, you can still see the discoloration of the soil caused by the sand blows. Quakes definitely get our attention, especially if they swarm, or there are many smaller quakes in a short period.

  14. Brian K says:

    There are some pentecostals that have been predicting a Chicago earthquake for years. Google “chicago+earthquake+prophecy” – but be forewarned, its pretty flaky stuff.

  15. Supertradmom says:

    Brian,

    Not just Pentecostals…

  16. edwardo3 says:

    Gowing up in Indianapolis we were taught that we sat on part of the New Madrid zone, and that nothing has been built to withstand earthquakes. One of my geography instructors at IU took great pleasure in telling the class about all the damage that would be caused if the New Madrid went off again, fun stuff.

  17. edwardo3 says:

    We were also taught that when the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812 hapened, they rang church bells in Boston and broke windows in Charleston.

  18. We were taught that it was all Tecumseh’s fault.

    Heh… I kill me. ;)

  19. AJP says:

    Dr Eric and Jenny,

    Thanks for the info! That Dr. Browning sure sounds like a character. It’s also a good illustration of just how much the truth can be distorted by rumors. The earthquake was “predicted” to happen on the New Madrid fault. At the time I lived outside of Chicago, hundreds of miles away from the New Madrid. Even if an earthquake had hit the NMF, Chicago wouldn’t have been affected. Yet the local rumors made it sound like Chicago would be.

  20. tzard says:

    Re: Andy Lucy’s comment: “The earthquake in Illinois was not related to any significant fault line”

    As a lifelong resident of California (indeed, my relatives go to back to the Spanish), I know that statement should properly read “…known fault line”. We do not know all the cracks and bulges under the surface. Even in California, many earthquakes happen on previously unknown faults, some as low as 50 miles under the surface. You really don’t know.

    There are very good guides online about earthquake-proofing your house. Those in the Midwest should take those steps (like bolting your house the the foundation and securing your water heater). Don’t have a huge mirror or bookshelves above your bed, anchor your bookshelves to studs in the wall. Minor things (a day of work, except perhaps the foundation part).

  21. Peggy R says:

    When we moved back to IL from DC (where global warming is in full swing, you know), we were given the option to buy earthquake insurance. We decided to go with it, as it cost very little and if the unthinkable happened, we were covered. We’re also on the bluffs of the Mississippi, just above flood plain. We did get flood insurance as well.

  22. bookworm says:

    I suppose an argument could be made that given the, ahem, caliber of the politicians we’ve inflicted upon the nation of late (the Obamessiah, Rahmbo, Blago, “Turban” Dick Durbin, Roland “Tombstone” Burris, etc.) we Illinois residents are overdue for some kind of divine retribution. Personally, I think just having to see Blago in the NBC “Celebrity Apprentice” promos is penance enough… but I digress.

    Seriously, though, I have felt earthquakes about 3 or 4 times in my life. I did not feel the one this morning as it was too far away (I live in Springfield). The biggest one I have felt was about 2 years ago, it was strong enough to wake me up at 4:30 a.m., rattle windows, and make a rumbling noise. That one also had an aftershock about 6 hours later. The aftershocks now taking place in Haiti are about the same magnitude as what happened this morning.

    A lot of the destruction in Haiti was due to the flimsy construction of their buildings. Remember, they are the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and since they live in a tropical climate, don’t need thick walls or insulation. I suspect most Midwestern buildings are built better than in Haiti, but it is true that earthquake stability was not a major concern until recently — so a “big one” on the New Madrid fault could cause lots of damage. We won’t know for sure how much until it actually happens, however.

    Also, much of central and southern Illinois experiences mine subsidence because extensive underground mining of coal took place in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of these old mines were never adequately mapped. The shafts sometimes collapse and cause damage to buildings above them. Less than a year ago, for example, a brand new school in the town of Benld, about 50 miles NE of St. Louis, started falling apart literally overnight due to mine subsidence and had to be abandoned. These mines didn’t exist at the time of the last big New Madrid quake so they have the potential to add to the damage.