Feel that shake? It wasn’t just you

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MONTEZUMA, Ind. — Hoosiers experienced some tremors Thursday afternoon after an earthquake struck just north of Terre Haute.

The United States Geological Survey reported a magnitude 3.8 earthquake around 3:18 p.m. Thursday. The earthquake happened in Montezuma Indiana at a depth of 7.7 KM.

“We may never know what caused it,” details Michael Hamburger, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Indiana University, “[The quake is] unlikely to show its face at the earth surface, so we have to make inferences.”

WTWO reports people who were at the epicenter of the earthquake may have experienced shaking. However, a 3.8 magnitude earthquake is not likely to cause any significant or structural damage, USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso said. Dispatchers in Parke County said they have not yet received any reports of injury or damage in the area.

“In the southern part of the state there are regularly earthquakes of this magnitude or greater,” details Purdue Professor Bob Nowack who studies earthquakes, “This is relatively unusual this far north.”

According to the USGS, the eastern part of North America has older rocks, older compared to those in the western half of North America. Fault lines in these older rocks have more time to heal after an earthquake, which allows seismic waves to cross them more effectively when one does occur. In the west, where there are younger rocks due to more earthquakes, seismic waves are absorbed and do not spread as easily.”

Parke County sits in what is called the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone, a concentrated area where earthquakes are likely to occur. Polly Sturgeon, Outreach Coordinator for the Indiana Geological and Water Survey, said this area is susceptible to minor earthquakes every five to ten years as a result of being in this seismic zone.

“There is no real way to predict these earthquakes, so they are random,” Sturgeon said. “They’re random but not out of the ordinary.”

Since 2011, Indiana has felt 9 earthquakes, with the strongest coming from Sparta, North Carolina in August 2020. That earthquake was magnitude 5.1.

Sturgeon said the best way to handle being inside of an earthquake is to immediately hit the ground and cover your head. To report feeling effects of this earthquake, fill out a “Did you feel it?” survey on the IGWS website.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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