Real Life Stories: Illinois Earthquake!

Today, February 10th, at 4:00 am, I experienced my first earthquake.

It was a 4.3 magnitude quake that lasted about 4 seconds, and woke me from a dead sleep.

I realize that this is an infant of the earthquake world, that most Californians wouldn’t even turn over in their sleep if they felt this quake. I, however, am from the midwest. Chicago to be specific. We don’t get earthquakes. In all of my 42 years I don’t remember ever experiencing an earthquake.

I woke to feel the house tremble and the sound of a distant explosion, almost immediately it was followed by another distant explosion and house shake. I thought “What the hell was that?” and got out of bed to make sure World War 3 hadn’t started. To describe the actual feel of it, it was like a transformer blew up maybe half a block away, which I have experienced before. My wife also woke up, looked at me and said, “What the hell was that?” to which I shrugged my shoulders. I looked all over the house to make sure everything was ok, and all was fine so I headed back to bed.

My wife says “Maybe it was an earthquake”, to which I scoff of course, and went back to sleep.

In an hour I was up again getting ready for work, my wife had stayed awake and discovered (via mobile phone internet capability) that it had indeed been an earthquake, that she was again right, and that I am again not too bright.

The epicenter was in Sycamore, which is just a few miles from us, and the reason it woke us out of sleep.

I am aware that there are faults in Illinois, and I knew a quake had hit back in 2008 in Southern Illinois, but what is really going on here? This is Illinois for cripes sake!

Well, here is some interesting Illinois earthquake info:


Earthquakes occur in Illinois about once every year. But damaging quakes are much less frequent.

Minor damage from Illinois earthquakes is reported about once every 20 years.

Serious damage from earthquakes occurs every 70 to 90 years.

Devastating earthquakes are very rare in the central US, occurring about once every 700 to 1200 years.

The last strong earthquake to strike the Midwest happened on Halloween (Oct. 31) 1895.

The quake, centered just south of Illinois in Charleston, Missouri, had an estimated magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter scale.

It was felt as far away as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Topeka, Kansas.

(Source: EARTHQUAKE FACTS – Illinois State Geological Survey 1995-2 Department of Natural Resources)

Read More about the Halloween Earthquake of 1895 HERE

But what is the strongest earthquake in Northern Illinois you ask? What is the biggest one to shake the Windy City?

The biggest I could find was this little tidbit:

The largest earthquake to be located in northern Illinois is the mb ~ 5.1 Aurora earthquake of May 26, 1909. Its epicenter remains ambiguous with estimates ranging from south of Aurora to the Wisconsin border and from Du Page County to the Rock River valley. As the strongest earthquake presumed to be close to Chicago, determination of the epicenter and intensity of this event is critical for hazard assessment in northern Illinois. (Source: 2008 GSA abstract)

Now this isn’t good news for me, because I currently live about 2 miles from Aurora, and the USGS report says we get some serious damage from earthquakes every 70-90 years. So we are overdue, GASP!!!!!!

I know it is small potatoes to the rest of the world, and that thousands have been killed in the most horrific quakes this year that have caused much death and devestation. To them I express my deepest sympathies and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

About Elliott Miller 2570 Articles
The Voice of E is me! E for Elliott that is. I'm a Geek Journalist featuring Board Games, Video Games, RPG's, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Comics, and Movie News and Reviews.