Saturday, June 26, 2010

Earthquake in Canada felt in Toledo

Epicenter near Ontario-Quebec border at 1:41 p.m.


From Maine to the Straits of Mackinac, the vibrations were no fluke.

A magnitude 5.0-earthquake with an epicenter near Canada's Ontario-Quebec border struck this part of North America at 1:41 p.m. Wednesday, an event that is certainly not as rare as many people believe but not business as usual.

Chris Holland, secretary for Toledo Police Chief Mike Navarre, said the vibrations were strong enough inside downtown Toledo's Safety Building to move her feet and her computer screen.

"It was very noticeable. It was enough to move my feet," Ms. Holland said, adding that the sensation seemed to last only five or maybe 10 seconds at most.

Donald Stierman, associate professor of geophysics in the University of Toledo's environmental sciences department, said some students taking a quiz in UT's Bowman-Oddy Laboratories felt the vibrations.

Mr. Stierman, a California native who studies earthquakes, said it was the fourth largest earthquake strong enough to be felt in his 25 years in the Toledo area.

Several others have been felt in northeast Ohio in recent years, including one or two this year, he said.

"It's a source of information," said Mr. Stierman, who said the event could help him and others unravel clues about the Earth's crust.

Robert Vincent, a Bowling Green State University geology professor and co-founder of OhioView, a remote sensing consortium of Ohio's 10 largest public research universities, said in a 2008 interview that Ohio typically records at least one detectable earthquake a year - but that the tremors are usually so small that many people don't notice them.

According to a 2003 paper by Michael C. Hansen of the Ohio Geological Survey and Larry J. Ruff of the University of Michigan, it is "difficult to convince citizens in the eastern half of the United States that earthquakes are a threat in some areas to both people and property" because of their infrequency and milder intensity in comparison to high-profile California quakes. But the paper said Ohio has had at least 170 earthquakes since 1776, at least 15 of which caused mild to moderate damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey said yesterday's earthquake shook homes and businesses from Toronto to the states of New York and Michigan.

The Associated Press said there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Scientists for the U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred at a depth of about 12 miles.

It was originally described as 5.5 magnitude, but later reduced to a magnitude of 5.0.

Officials said the earthquake lasted about 30 seconds, rattling downtown buildings and homes in Ottawa and Toronto, as well as government offices across the Ottawa River in Gatineau, Quebec.

Several buildings in Toronto and the Ottawa region were evacuated.

In Ohio, people reported the sound of plaster cracking in Cleveland and buildings in Cincinnati gently swaying.

In Cleveland, James Haselden says his office in a renovated 19th century brick building swayed and he heard plastic cracking but saw no damage.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Canadian quake was felt by some residents in the western Pennsylvania area.

In Michigan, residents from suburban Detroit to Port Huron and Saginaw reported feeling the earthquake.

Detroit police spokesman Yvette Walker told the Associated Press that police personnel on the upper floors of the downtown headquarters building reported feeling the quake.

Information from The Blade's news services was used in this report.