Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

May 19, 2013

A local quake: low probability, high consequence

GOSHEN — Earthquakes in Indiana aren’t top of mind for most Hoosiers. But while the chances of a massive earthquake in these parts are slim, the damage such a freak occurrence would cause could be huge.

“It’s high consequence, low probability,” said Gary Patterson.

Patterson spends his life talking about and tracking earthquakes as the director of education and outreach for the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis.

And low probability is precisely how an earthquake affecting Elkhart County can be categorized. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the chances of a 5.0 magnitude earthquake affecting the area over the next 100 years is minuscule. It’s at less than 1 percent for the Gary area, as well as Fort Wayne.

The most talked about seismic zone in the Midwest is New Madrid. Located in Missouri and stretching over several states, including southwestern Indiana, New Madrid is a seismic zone people like Patterson keep an eye on.

New Madrid gets so much attention for what it may do in the future, because of its past. From late 1811 to early 1812, Patterson said a series of powerful earthquakes took place in the region. They were as powerful, if not more so, than the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco. That earthquake killed 63 people, caused bridges collapse and halted the start of Game 3 of the 1989 World Series for 10 days.

But not all earthquakes, even ones similar in magnitude, are alike. Patterson explained that an earthquake in the Midwest has the potential to be more powerful than one in California.

“The deep crust becomes hardened due to the cold in the Midwest,” he explained. “This causes the earthquake waves to travel a much further distance.”

Patterson said that 200 earthquakes a year are recorded along New Madrid. That makes it the most active seismic zone east of the Rockies.

It’s just the quakes are usually too small to be felt by anyone said Patterson.

Devising a plan

Patterson said its hard for Midwesterners to plan for an earthquake.

“It’s not like California where they have huge earthquakes every 60 years,” said Patterson. “So many say its better not to think about.”

That’s a mistake said Patterson.

While the chances of a massive earthquake hitting a place like Elkhart County are low, it’s still important to have a plan. But unlike other weather phenomena, there is zero warning when it comes to earthquakes.

“So depending on the time of day an earthquake occurs it’s hard to tell the damage one could cause or the amount of casualties,” said Patterson. “There are way too many variables.”

Patterson advises people to know their surroundings during an earthquake and follow the “duck and cover” rule. Find a sturdy desk and hide under it while holding on to the legs.

Much like in cases of flooding or tornadoes, having a 72-hour survival kit on hand is important. From there, it’s about devising a plan, practicing and executing that plan.

“Unless you talk about it and plan for it you can freeze when the situation arises,” said Patterson. “And that freeze can be very impactful.”

A brief history

There isn’t a long history of earthquakes in Indiana. Many Hoosiers can feel tremors from earthquakes originated out of state, but not many do any damage.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the most damaging earthquake to originate in Indiana took place Sept. 29, 1909 between Vincennes and Terre Haute. There were reports of buildings with cracked walls and some chimneys fell. It affected an area of 30,000 square miles.

Previously, April 29, 1899 stands out for earthquakes in Indiana. Once again it affected the southwestern part of the state. That quake was felt over a 40,000 square mile area.

Twin shocks, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, took place 15 minutes apart in 1876 and were felt over a 60,000 square-mile area.

More recently, a Nov. 9, 1968 earthquake that originated in southern Illinois affected all of Indiana. Damage was reported in the southern part of the state.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the great New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 must have strongly affected Indiana but there was little information available from then.

Wabash Valley

A 5.0 magnitude earthquake hit Evansville June 18, 2012. But it wasn’t caused by New Madrid. It fell in the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone and could be felt slightly in the Goshen area.

According to the Central United States Earthquake Consortium, the affected area of the Wabash Valley zone reaches further north into Indiana, west of Indianapolis.

Patterson said if Elkhart County were to feel an earthquake its quite possible it’d come from the closer Wabash Valley zone rather than New Madrid.

For more information regarding earthquakes and seismic zones across the U.S., visit www.usgs.gov/

1
Text Only
Local News
  • BIRTHS: Aug. 21, 2014 These births appeared in the Aug. 21, 2014 edition of The Goshen News.

    August 20, 2014

  • 0821 goshen college challenge Locals embrace ice bucket challenge It’s a challenge that has united participants with the shared sensation of an icy burst of water, sopping wet clothing and video evidence — all in the name of philanthropy.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140821 nisly complaint Complaint filed against state rep candidate Accusations of wrongdoing, in the form of a complaint to the Indiana Election Commission, have been levied against District 22 representative Republican nominee Curt Nisly.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140820 dometic groundbreaking Dometic breaks ground on significant expansion in Goshen GOSHEN — As Dometic officials gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony for the $7 million expansion of their Goshen distribution center Wednesday, the work was already underway in the background. “It’s happening right now,” said Dave Schutz, vice presi

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140821 Ignition art Plenty of good music on horizon at Ignition Several upcoming shows at Ignition Garage in Goshen were announced this week.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • City plan nearing a final draft GOSHEN — The city’s new comprehensive plan is nearing completion, and a near-final draft has now been released for public review. Goshen Plan Commission members released the draft of the city’s newly penned comprehensive plan, titled “Uncommonly Grea

    August 19, 2014

  • GN140820 Hakws building Hotel, brew pub plans progressing GOSHEN — Plans for a new boutique hotel and brew pub at the historic Hawks building in downtown Goshen continue to move ahead steadily.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140820 nappanee awards 031.jpg Nappanee mayor honors 'Spirited' youth NAPPANEE — Two Elkhart County 4-H’ers were honored by their hometown mayor during Monday’s city council meeting. Receiving the Community Spirit Award and a key to the city were Lane Flowers and Sarah Stump. Mayor Larry Thompson recognized Flowers, a

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • arlo.jpg SLIDESHOW: Pets of the Week Cats and dogs are looking for loving permanent homes at the Humane Society of Elkhart County.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nappanee Town Hall 02 Pay increases, gas part of Nappanee's 4% proposed budget increase NAPPANEE — Two percent pay increases and an increase in gasoline spending contributed toward a 4 percent increase in the proposed 2015 city budget. Council members approved the proposed budget on first reading Monday night. As it stands, the total of

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
     View Results
AP Video
Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape Texas Gov. Perry: Indictment 'a Political Act' US Officials: Video Shows American's Beheading Video Shows Ferguson Cop Months Before Shooting Water Bottles Recalled for Safety Researcher Testing On-Field Concussion Scanners