posted on Dec, 16 2009 @ 09:27 PM
My Bad.. I guess they've had a couple, but, not too many...
The Days Nebraska Shook
Earthquakes in Nebraska? Yes, but our faults are minor.
By CURT ARENS, NEBRASKA LIFE MAGAZINE, JULY/AUGUST 2003
FOR GOD’S SAKE, let’s get out of here!” The Omaha courtroom audience was startled. An assistant to the district attorney was on his feet,
shouting for everyone to leave. Then the D.A. himself shouted, ‘There’s an earthquake!”
In a third-floor courtroom on November 15, 1877, just as a judge was about to open a case for the U.S. Circuit Court, a wall clock behind him began
swinging wildly. Above, chandeliers swayed. The whole building rumbled. At once, attorneys, plaintiffs, defendants and judge sprinted from the
At first, no one could believe that it was really an earthquake. Soon, dispatches began arriving at Union Pacific headquarters from points between
Omaha and Sidney. Other cities had felt it too. The epicenter — the spot on the earth’s surface directly above the movement occurring miles
underground — was probably near Garland, in northeastern Seward County.
In Columbus, a courthouse wall was cracked in nine places. In North Platte, children vacated their school building when two severe tremors lasting 40
seconds each rocked the city. Lincoln reported two short-lived tremors that gave residents a sickening sensation. In Council Bluffs, Iowa, quick
shocks lasting two minutes sent the occupants of one building rushing into the street, fearing the structure would crumble around them. As far away as
Yankton, S.D., and Sioux City, Iowa, similar tremor abruptly ended a church service and sent high school students into panic.
In Omaha, meanwhile, as people scurried into the streets, the quake damaged buildings under construction at the new Creighton University.
Though it lasted only a few seconds in most places, the earthquake was the largest in the state’s recorded history. It shook an estimated 140,000
square miles of Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.
In the days before seismographs or the Richter scale, quakes were described only by their effects on the surface. They were classified according to
the modified Mercalli scale, which described 12 levels of intensity. Intensity I, for example, is hardly felt at all; IV feels like a heavy truck
striking a building; VII can break chimney and send everyone running outdoors; X cracks the ground and destroys brick buildings; XII ripples the
ground in waves and levels all buildings.
The 1877 Nebraska earthquake rated a VII. On the Richter scale which measures the actual energy of a quake based on seismographic readings, it might
have registered 5.1. By comparison, the 1989 San Francisco earthquake that killed 62 people and left 12,000 homeless measured 7.1.
In other words, Nebraskans aren’t rushing to buy earthquake insurance. Even so, the state has a few known fault zones and several other unidentified
lines that move occasionally, causing a quake or two each year.
Nebraska quakes are monitored by stations outside the state, up to hundreds of miles away. “Seismic waves are analogous to sound waves,”
University of Nebraska geologist Malt Joeckel explained “but they can move much faster through solid material than sound waves can through the
“After measuring the time it takes the three different kinds of seismic waves to travel to at least three widely-distributed seismograph stations,
computers can accurately calculate where a given quake was centered,” he said. The point where results from the three stations intersect is the
Nebraskans who have experienced an earthquake never forget in Last November, a 4.3 quake rocked much of north central Nebraska. The epicenter was just
southwest of Butte, near Paul and Jan Hostert’s place.