Source: Sherman Publications

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Earthquake felt by residents

by David Fleet

August 24, 2011

Colleen Heath said the ground shook like a heavy truck was passing by.

"It was a sudden movement or jolt," said Heath, a Brandon Township resident who works at the five story Riverside Center in Southfield about 36 miles south of Ortonville. "It was a weird feeling— like a sense of dizziness—it lasted only a few seconds."

On Tuesday, Heath was one of many Michigan residents that felt the aftermath of a 5.9 earthquake that rocked Virginia and parts of Eastern United States at about 2 p.m. E.S.T. Reports of the quake were felt as far north as Traverse City according to news sources.

"A lot of people in my building did not even realize it was an earthquake—we were quick to blame it on something else."

While not common for Michigan such quakes do occur.

Kazuya Fujita, professor of geology at Michigan State University who has studied the historical seismicity of Michigan and northern Illinois said earthquakes in central Michigan are possible and do occur but would not likely be devastating.

"In the Lansing, Flint area of central Michigan we are in the middle of a big tectonic plate—but it's been about a billion years since a major earthquake has occurred. However, it's likely dishes will be rattled and possibly weak structures could be damaged."

Fujita said the strongest quake with a magnitude of 4.8 hit in 1947 near Coldwater Mich.

"I understand the Coldwater quake creaked a chimney or two. There was also a quake out in Lake Erie that rattled the Detroit area—but really there's not a lot to worry about."

Tuesday's quake in Michigan was the fifth in the last five years added Fujita.

"There were two quakes in 2008 and three last year—many we just don't feel. People in higher buildings may be more apt to feel the quake due to the amplification further up the building," he said.

Fujita said that beginning in 2012 a statewide project will begin to install seismograph equipment throughout the state.

"When completed the project will include monitors to cover a 50 mile radius to detect movements in the earth."