Mt. Vernon Register-News

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April 19, 2014

Earthquake reports false

MT. VERNON — Local television reports and social media posts about an alleged earthquake near Ina are false, according to the U.S. Geological Service.

Thursday night, a posting on a USGS website fueled news reports and talk about a 2.7 magnitude quake centered about 9 miles east-southeast of Ina and 17 miles south-southeast of Mt. Vernon.

“In this case, a posting on our website was made by SIRI, another organization that looks at earthquake activity in the central U.S.,” said Paul Caruso, geophysicist with the USGS. “We looked at it, and said no, it’s not an earthquake and took it off the website.”

Caruso said the event was not an earthquake, but an explosion at a mine.

“If we locate an earthquake near a coal mine, we immediately become suspicious,” Caruso explained. “An experienced seismologist can look at the wave forms and tell the difference.”

Caruso said explosions also are measured by magnitude, like earthquakes.

“Magnitude is how much energy is released during an explosion,” Caruso said. “For example, when North Korea held its nuclear testing in February, we felt it here at a smaller magnitude.”

Caruso said residents in Southern Illinois should be concerned about the threat of earthquakes, as it lies in the Wabash Valley Seismic Fault Zone and near the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The Wabash Valley Seismic Zone lies along the state line between southeastern Illinois and southwestern Indiana in the Wabash River valley. The New Madrid Seismic Zone, also known as the New Madrid Fault Line, is a major seismic zone stretching southwest from New Madrid, Mo.

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