Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Whole Shack Shimmies

Small Quake Has Big Reach

Yes, I felt the quake too. Being a lifelong east-coaster who has never felt an earthquake before, it was quite an experience. I never felt unsafe, but it certainly was a bit unsettling when you start to realize that it's not your chair that's wobbling, it's the planet under your feet. That is a powerful expression of the earth. I am well aware that the west-coasters are mocking us right now and that's understandable, since it was only a 5.8. But, they have to realize that from Washington D.C. to New York City, when something very strange starts to happen, unfortunately your mind briefly goes to "terrorism" until you realize that it's not. In that brief moment, there is a sense of dread and that can really account for a lot of the initial excitement and hysteria. Once that passes, the thought of "wow, that was an earthquake! I've never felt an earthquake before" settles in a there is a different rush of spreading the word, asking if your friends and family felt it too, where they were and what they thought of it.

Something like this is a rarity on the east coast because we have a far more ancient fault-line. The Appalachian mountain chain was created hundreds of millions of years ago and as a result, the mountains are now very soft-rolling in appearance (compared to the rigid high peaks of the rockies which are far younger), but the crust and mantle itself is much older and harder and colder than along the San Andreas fault line. Because of that, the "ringing" vibration of this earthquake was felt through the bedrock from Atlanta to Toronto. Nearly a fifth of the United States felt that quake, even if it was smaller, and that makes it newsworthy. So, laugh all you want California, but we are now part of the brotherhood and thankful it wasn't bigger and more catastrophic. I can't even begin to imagine the magnitude of what hit Japan earlier this year. Whoah!

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