Tag Archives: New Madrid

the day the earth did NOT stand still

Archie, our orange tabby cat, likes to be in our bedroom. But he keeps me awake, so we put him out at bedtime. In response, he occasionally spends part of the night banging as hard as he can with both paws on the closed door.

This morning, a little before 6:00 a.m., Doug and I both came awake at the same moment. “What was that?” he asked. “Archie?” I had a vague, sleepy memory of the door shaking loudly in its frame; the door was still vibrating, so I replied, “Mm hmmm,” and went back to sleep.

A little while later our daughter turned on the news and called out, “Mom, dad, did you know there was an earthquake this morning?!” Ahh — so it wasn’t the cat after all.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/59/Landkarte_New_Madrid_Erdbeben.jpgAn earthquake! Too cool. At least, cool because it was enough to wake us up, but not enough to cause serious damage locally. It measured 5.2 on the Richter scale, with the epicenter off to our northwest. We’re subject to the rare tremor here thanks to the Louisville, KY area’s relative proximity to the New Madrid seismic zone.

By an interesting coincidence, today’s quake occurred on the 102nd anniversary of the huge San Francisco earthquake. Fortunately, Louisville does not lie in ruins.

I’ve experienced only one other earthquake in my life, which also woke me up: I was in college at Purdue, taking a nap in my apartment, when a similar low-level New Madrid quake struck. I remember being on my feet before I was fully awake, wondering what in the world that feeling was that had wakened me so strangely.

When you live in an area whose ground generally is solid and unmoving, the experience of an earthquake is … strange, to say the least. The earth is not supposed to move; it’s supposed to stay where it is and behave. Around here, when it decides to do otherwise, it’s an unusual, interesting, and yes, cool event.