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Day 378: Love A Geologist And Feel The Earth Quake

in geology, new orleans, science & technology

Gulf of Mexico earthquake felt in Southeast US – 6.0 on the Richter scale

06/09/10 14:56: 7.83 GMT
Epicenter: 26.339 -86.568
MW 6.0 Depth 10km (6.2 miles)

Sweet! An intraplate earthquake right south of Alabama. *swoon*

This earthquake was centered beneath the Gulf of Mexico, well distant from the nearest active plate boundary. Such “midplate” earthquakes are much less common than earthquakes occurring on faults near plate boundaries … This is the largest of more than a dozen shocks that have been instrumentally recorded from the eastern Gulf of Mexico in the past three decades, and it is the most widely felt. The most recent significant earthquake in the region occurred on February 10th, 2006 and had a magnitude of 5.2. We have not associated this earthquake with a specific causative fault.

In other words, this moderately deep earthquake did not occur along a fault, although the moment tensor solution suggests movement along an almost N-S-oriented normal reverse fault with a shallow southwest dip. Eeeeenteresting.

At 9:56 this morning, I was cleaning my floors with the old Eureka Wind Tunnel, a seismic source unto itself, so I may or may not have felt the quake. Also realize that a seismograph located here would go nuts every 15 minutes, i.e. when the RTA bus goes by. Do you know how irritated this geologist is at not having experienced an earthquake in her own backyard? If, however you felt it, let the USGS know.

9 comments… add one
  • Reverse fault dear Maitri. Very similar to focal mechs in the western
    Atlantic Ocean and the one we had off the coast of South Carolina in 2002.

  • Blair

    What has the deep drilling unleashed?!?! Run for your life! The gulf is sinking!

  • Yeah, Blair already hit my question. Since you’re the only geologist I… uh… have access to… I was wondering if there’s even a chance the deep sea drilling had anything to do with it.

  • Yes, Renegade, reverse fault. Sorry. Dammit – I’m so used to mapping normal slip that I can’t even spell ‘reverse’ any more.

    Joe, this doesn’t have anything to do with drilling. The earthquake occurred way far east of current drilling activity (the Jack well test is directly south of Atchafalaya Bay). Moreover, the earthquake was far deeper than any deep drilling in the Gulf.

  • This is very disappointing. I was with Mrs. oyster that morning and she told me the “earth moved” and I felt very good about that. Apparently it wasn’t just me.

  • Julie

    I felt the Illinois one back in 2003 or 2004; I slept right through any odd sensations this one might’ve caused. Feels like a truck has hit your house (and yes, a truck HAS hit my house, so I can say that).

    I might have to request light duty this weekend – I have some serious left arm pain from…uh, well, from…playing Mortal Kombat: Deception. And gamer thumb. For real. But nerd injuries shan’t prevent me from showing up!

  • Julie LH. *shakes head* Ok, between mold allergies and “gamer arm,” I’m sure we can keep you outside Morwen’s where you assist in disposing of light objects. I’ll buy extra face protection for you.

  • I was at the beach in St. Pete, FL and maybe noticed an increase in waves, only because the water had been so calm otherwise. But i figured it was those damn jet skis. Oh well…

  • If it makes ya feel any better, I was wide awake at that time and didn’t feel jackshit. Although it’s quite possible I felt it but my brain chalked it up to a garbage truck or anything heavier than a Ford Escort passing by, or the pilings being driven into the ground 1/2 mile away, or…


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