August 1, 2014

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Conditions at Parkersburg, Mid Ohio Valley Regional Airport, WV
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Did You Feel It Too? An Earth Tremor in Ohio

A 1 P.M. earth tremor got a lot of people in Athens county all shook up. But no damage was observed. Many people didn't realize we have quakes and tremors every day, but at a level we can't feel.

This is my personal blog and not a news story. It is not the opinion of anyone else, the station, nor my family.

The earthquake (a tremor, really) occurred just as I was setting the table for the late lunch I was going to enjoy.  As I was walking across the kitchen and into the dinning room, I heard it more than I felt it.

To me, it sounded like a large, LARGE truck was rumbling past on a highway, except, looking out the window, there was no truck.  I also looked to the rear of our north-facing house, and expected to see a jet of steam being released by Ohio University's power plant.  They do this occasionally.

But there was a vibration running through the wooden floor of our second story dinning room, and I thought it might have been a garage door being opened beneath me.  It seemed to me that the rumble and sound lasted ten to 15 seconds, but then I'm probably exaggerating it. I was looking around for the source, with a gallon of milk in one hand and a loaf of bread in the other.

I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't recognize it for what it was immediately.  After all, I have been through three major shakes in Hawaii one Sunday morning back in October 2006 that I will never forget!  THOSE were prolonged shaking and very perceptible swaying of everything in the hotel room.  Nothing like I experienced today at home.

There aren't any major fault lines running through Ohio, and there's no long history of temblors in the region (with the exception of Ada, Ohio on the far side of the state).

So the only major quake to speak about was the 1811-1812 New Madrid quakes that set church bells rocking in Boston as well as reversing the Mississippi River for a short time IN THE BOOT-HEEL OF MISSOURI!

Now, a lot of people are talking about today's quake (tremor) on Facebook and other social media. Many say they felt it. Many say they did not.  A few are claiming that the city of Nelsonville was wiped off the map! (Liars!)  And some say that we're sitting on a time-bomb fault line.

The truth of the matter is that there are NO MAJOR fault-lines running through this region. However, there are always minor faults, both known and unknown, that can slip at any time. 

One particularly arrogant know-it-all claimed on Facebook that this was the direct result of fracking in the area.  However, there is no fracking going on in the area.  This type of mis-information just makes my blood boil, as it's obvious that people are trying to prey upon people's fear of the unknown for their own agenda.

What IS true, and that most have not noticed, is that the area of today's tremor is riddled with old coal mines. There are literally dozens of abandoned coal mine shafts that riddle the area. Only about 20 years ago, a hole opened up in the middle of "Happy Hollow Road" outside Nelsonville, and was pronounced to be an air-shaft to a deep mine that had re-opened through settling.  The solution was pouring more stone and  gravel into the shaft and paving over it.

If you go looking for Happy Hollow Road, you are going to be frustrated, because the Ohio Department of Transportation has just built a bi-pass around Nelsonville, cutting off the closest access to one end of Happy Hollow Road, AND filling the valley (hollow, if you will) with the excess rock and hilltops that they had to shave off the right-of-way to complete the bi-pass. In short, the road and valley have been buried.

Also, the bi-pass came into completion a year early, and a million dollars under budget, because the construction company discovered that they didn't need to address the collapsing mine tunnels beneath the land to the degree that was feared.  They just bulldozed over them without problem.

Until now. Not only do we no long have access to the mines, but they may be buried under tons of slag and dumped rock, that was never pressing down on those mines before.

So, what is the more likely cause of the earthquake today?  Fracking that has not begun in the area, or abandoned coal mines that were not properly filled?

Myself, I think that the bitter cold overnight temperatures have something to do with it. But I'm not a geologist... so I won't comment.

But someone else will... it's the nature of our new social media.

Let's hope that they are informed and correct in their theory.

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
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