Daily Record/Sunday News
Sun, 26 Oct 2008 17:42 UTC
Every night Brenda Sacoman tucks her two boys into bed, they ask: What are we going to do if another earthquake hits? What's going to happen to us?
Sacoman tells 10-year-old Nick and 8-year-old Jake everything will be OK and she will come and get them if an earthquake strikes again.
"We try to reassure them, but actually we're not really sure," she said while sitting in her Carroll Township home earlier this week.
Two earthquakes have rattled the area within the past two weeks -- a magnitude 2.0 on Oct. 5 and a 2.7 last Sunday -- and residents have reported other tremors.
"The first one was kind of neat -- you know, you experienced it -- but it's not so neat anymore," Sacoman said.
Scientists aren't sure why an unusual swarm of earthquakes and tremors have been occurring just a few miles southeast of Dillsburg. A fault line doesn't show up on the geological mapping of the area.
In an effort to pinpoint the source of the earthquakes, scientists from Columbia University in New York placed portable seismographs in the area to monitor the activity.
It could be a month before any results are available, said Charles Scharnberger, professor emeritus of the earth sciences department at Millersville University, which has a seismograph that has recorded the earthquakes.
Some residents said they plan to attend either their homeowners association meeting or a public meeting about the earthquakes. They, too, would like to know what is causing them.
Angie Basom, who lives just across the street from the Sacomans, said she didn't feel the first earthquake like her neighbors did.
But the one last Sunday even woke her husband, Brent, who sleeps like a log, around 4:30 a.m.
"I said to my husband, 'What was that?'" she said. "It was almost like a cannon went off."
They'd start to fall back to sleep when another loud bang would wake them, she said.
"I was thinking, 'Do I wake the kids and leave,' but we didn't," she said.
Sacoman's windows rattled and decorative wooden houses fell off of the window ledges during last Sunday's earthquake. She and other residents said they applied for earthquake insurance last week - just in case.
A few homeowners did report damage from the earthquakes, said Jeri Jones of Jones Geological Services.
One found a crack in the foundation of the home, he said. Another had a broken window and a third found a crack in a ceiling.
Scientists say that residents shouldn't be alarmed. Big, damaging earthquakes in the East are extremely rare.
The largest earthquake in the region happened in Berks County in 1994 and measured 4.7 on the Richter scale, Scharnberger said. It caused minor damage.
Many residents in the area just wish the earthquakes would end.
It's difficult to describe just how bad it was, Sacoman said.
"It actually sounds like somebody picks your house up and slams it down," she said. "It's a split couple of seconds, but I feel like you're (frozen) for those couple of seconds."
Many residents have reported hearing "explosions" with the recent earthquakes and tremors.
Those bangs are caused for two reasons, Scharnberger said.
Origins of earthquakes in the East tend to be shallow. The high frequency from the vibrations hitting the air causes the "explosion."
The other reason is the buildup and sudden release of seismic energy in the rock.
Residents can get more information about the recent earthquakes in Carroll Township during a public meeting Tuesday night.
Charles Scharnberger, professor emeritus of the earth sciences department at Millersville University, and Jeri Jones of Jones Geological Services will present some preliminary data on the two earthquakes that have been recorded.
The meeting will be 6:30 p.m. at the township building, 555 Chestnut Grove Road.
The Richter scale measures the magnitude of the seismic activity. Here's what the scale shows:
2.5 or less -- Usually not felt, but can be recorded by a seismograph.
2.5 to 5.4 -- Often felt, but only causes minor damage.
5.5 to 6.0 -- Slight damage to buildings and other structures.
6.1 to 6.9 -- Might cause a lot of damage in very populated areas.
7.0 to 7.9 -- Major earthquake. Serious damage.
8.0 or greater-- Great earthquake. Can totally destroy communities near the epicenter.
Source: Michigan Technological University