Strong Earthquake Tremors Rattle Kentucky and Indiana

April 18, 2008 · Print This Article · Email This Post

People throughout Kentuckiana, from an area as wide as Evansville, Indiana to Central Kentucky, were awakened at 5:36:57 a.m. this morning by strong earthquake tremors lasting 30 seconds or longer. Chicago skyscrapers shook and tall buildings in Indianapolis swayed, with the quake felt as far away as Grand Rapids and Detroit, Michigan, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (350 miles from the southeastern Illinois epicenter), and Atlanta, Georgia. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the magnitude 5.4 earthquake was centered seven miles east of New Salem, IL, 66 miles from Evansville, IN. The earthquake, which was 10 miles below the Earth’s surface, rivalled the strongest on record in the area. Later in the morning, the quake was downgraded to a 5.2, still in the intermediate range for damage.

Earthquake in Southeastern Illinois Shakes Kentuckiana

No injuries were reported in the Kentuckiana earthquake, although there was structural damage in downtown Louisville at the Cosmopolitan building at 309 W. Kentucky St. between Second and Third Sts., where bricks tumbled off an upper story of a brick building, littering the sidewalk with rubble. Windows cracked at Fort Knox, and there was damage to several area homes. Portions of Southern Indiana, including Caesar’s casino, lost power. Students in high-rise dormitories were evacuated at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY. Windows at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN were also shattered.

New Madrid Earthquake of 1895 was Larger than 1994 Northridge, California Earthquake

The New Madrid fault lies in western Kentucky and a major earthquake has been predicted for years. The 1812 earthquake along the New Madrid fault was the largest in U.S. history; it caused the Mississippi River to temporarily run backwards, with major damage as far away as Lexington, Kentucky. The quake caused church bells to ring as far away as Charleston, SC. Everyone east of the Mississippi River except for New York and New England felt the temblor, which was stronger than the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake, estimated to have been between 7.8 and 8.3 on the Richter scale. This is also the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake: One of the largest natural disasters in U.S. history, it caused 3,000 to 5,000 deaths, while 508 city blocks burned to the ground. The last large New Madrid Fault temblor was in 1895. It registered 6.8 on the Richter scale and was more intense than the memorable 1994 Northridge, California earthquake.

San Francisco Earthquake, 1906

According to the USGS, today’s quake was in what’s known as the Illinois basin-Ozark dome region which covers parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri, stretching from Indianapolis and St. Louis to Memphis. There is speculation that strong earthquakes in the Pacific Rim which began on December 26, 2004 with a 9.0 earthquake near Sumatra, which killed hundreds of thousands of people in Thailand and other countries in an accompanying tsunami, have led to shifts in the Earth’s tectonic plates now being felt elsewhere as earthquakes.

Louisville’s 911 service experienced a 20 percent increase in calls after this morning’s quake. At a 9:00 press conference, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abrams reminded the citizenry that 911 is not the place to call to ask: “Hey, what’s going on?”

Read more cheerful Kentucky news.

Photo credit: USGS

Copyright ©2008


4 Responses to “Strong Earthquake Tremors Rattle Kentucky and Indiana”

  1. Mike on April 18th, 2008 9:40 am

    No windows shattered on the Purdue University campus.
    In fact, the university’s buildings supervisor reports no damage at all from the earthquake.

  2. pajamadeen on April 18th, 2008 11:07 am

    That’s good to hear! CNN just reported that a 4.5 aftershock occurred about 45 minutes ago.

  3. Sharon on April 18th, 2008 11:40 am

    I actually dreamed about this earthquake! I woke up early this morning around 5:00 a.m., startled! I dreamed about an earthquake in Louisville, KY. I thought surely this must be crazy, because I had before dreamt about it. But then again I did dream about the California earthquake in 1994 and I was only 17 then. How weird! Could I have felt the earth tremors in Fla?

  4. pajamadeen on April 18th, 2008 12:34 pm

    Hi Sharon,

    I haven’t heard of any tremors in FL but maybe there were mild ones that most people didn’t recognize as such. That is very strange, to dream about an earthquake in Louisville just as one was occurring! Or, maybe you are psychic 🙂

    It reminds me of a time when there was another earthquake here in Kentucky several years ago. I had called my insurance agent to add earthquake insurance to my insurance policy, because the New Madrid fault is here, after all, and has caused way more damage here than the San Andreas fault in California has caused. Well, he added the insurance and then left work early to go to the races in Louisville. And then we had the earthquake. He called me up and asked me if I knew something he didn’t know, hahaha.