I now know what an earthquake feels like

and what it sounds like too.

Last night about 8:00 (which is close, it was exactly 8:01), I was working on a spreadsheet of volunteers for this summers CSTA Conference.

I heard this rumble.  By itself, that wasn’t a new occurrence around here.  We live on a concession road and so it’s just business as usual for trucks and cars to zoom by at 80 km/h or better.  The road isn’t all that smooth and so there’s a usual rumbling that you hear.  That’s what I thought I heard last night.

Except that it wasn’t the short duration that would come from a truck going by.  It just kept going and then all of a sudden there was a loud BANG and the house shook.  My first thought was that a couple of trucks had collided at the end of driveway.  I hope nobody was hurt; better go check.

So, I did what anyone would do.  I walked to the end of driveway and looked both ways and saw nothing.  (Except for other neighbours who were doing the same thing!)  The coast being apparently clear, I went back into the house.  Jaimie had a strange look on his face similar to the one when it’s walk time but it’s raining.  Master do something.  So, I pet him.  That seemed to do the trick for him but I still was no closer to knowing what was going on.

I did what every connected person does these days.  I turned to Twitter and did a simple search for “Amherstburg”.  It was comforting to know that we weren’t alone.  My friend @margsang from just over yonder had heard and felt it too.  I expanded my geography and people were talking about it in “Leamington”, “Belle River”, “Essex”, “LaSalle”, and “Windsor”.  What the heck?  It had to be something.  Zombie apocalypse or earthquake?

I decided to go conservative and looked for earthquake.  Sure enough.



There’s something freaky when you see a star like that hovering pretty close to where you are!

I found the site fascinating and, ever the inquirer, poked around at all the information that was available.  I was comforted that this was only a 3.6.  I can’t imagine what a stronger one would feel like or sound like.

A bigger concern was how would this affect the Fermi II nuclear plant in Monroe.  According to the colour scheme in the map above, they felt the same thing that we did.  But, a phone call later in the evening from Amherstburg emergency services and in the report from Windsor Star this morning indicated that Fermi was shut down.

The other concern was after shocks.  Yes, I paid attention in Geography class.  I’m happy to report that they were either non-existent or too weak to feel.

I did zoom in and checked out where the actual epicentre was.  Thankfully, it wasn’t under our house but a couple of concession roads over.  I took a drive by it this morning, having no idea what I was looking for, and came back none the wiser.  There is a winery really close to the spot; undoubtedly the wine got a shaking.  I do wonder if any of the farms have wells that might have been affected.

Since we don’t like it an area that’s prone for this type of thing, I have a real insight now and an appreciation for those that do.  I can now add “earthquake” to the list of Ontario weather things from Sue Kwiecien.

There’s my major learning for yesterday.  If I don’t go through it again, I won’t be disappointed.

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

6 thoughts on “I now know what an earthquake feels like”

  1. Wow! You were a couple of concessions away from the epicentre? You could hear rumbling, and then a big bang? And then the house shook? Yikes!!

    My memorable earthquake story had no rumbling, no big bang, and no noticeable shaking of the building. And there was no Internet then to turn to for immediate confirmation or identification of the epicentre. However, there was a seismograph available within running distance.

    This would’ve been back in the mid-80s, when I was working at the Ontario Science Center. A number of us were sitting in the host lounge (we must have been on dinner break). Suddenly, I noticed something — not necessarily anything immediately identifiable — and I looked up and made eye contact with the other people in the room who I found were doing the same thing. We all seemed to have noticed something intangible at the same time. There were a few seconds of shared “what’s happening?“ and then we all simultaneously decided we must’ve felt an earthquake! There was a brief pause — and then we are jumped up, shouted, “the seismograph!” and raced for the stairs.

    If you recall the logo of the science center—three interconnected circles (red, green, blue) — you may also recall that the centre building of the complex, building B, Is comprised of three circular towers connected by a Great Hall in the center. It’s the building that comes after the walk across the long bridges that look out over a forest ravine, and houses the auditorium, the administration offices, and the education offices (that’s where we were) as well as exhibits for areas like Space and (currently) KidSpark. From building B, you need to ride the 3 escalators down the hillside to the valley building—building C, where the majority of the exhibits are located. To this day, I have fond memories of riding those escalators multiple times daily over a span of several years.

    However, when you need to move quickly (or if there’s just been an earthquake) between building building B and building C, there’s a great set of stairs that let you get all the way to the bottom in rather quickly.

    I don’t have a lot of memories of running through the science centre when the public was in the building, but our group certainly did as we exited the stairwell, and raced to the seismograph that was located in the mezzanine above the Hall of Technology.

    We had a great time sharing the exhibit with the visitors in the area that day, where the seismograph is affixed to the Terrazzo flooring laid upon the concrete/rebar structure. Normally, if you stood within a metre of the seismograph and took a jump into the air and stomped on the floor, you could make the needle move. Otherwise, there was pretty much nothing to notice on the graph.

    However on that day, moments after we all “noticed something“ up in the tower building, there definitely was an event registered on the seismograph in the valley. And of course the next day we all read in the news (or perhaps heard on TV) that there had definitely been an earthquake in Ontario that had been felt in the Toronto area.

    Give Jamie a pat of reassurance from me!

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  2. I heard about the earthquake the next day, and when I heard where it was, I thought, “I think I know somebody that lives there.” I wondered if it was you, but I wasn’t sure. The funny thing is that I checked your blog to see if you wrote about it, figuring that you might if you were there and did feel something. I guess that I just checked some days in advance. 🙂

    Glad to hear that you’re alright and that you were able to calm Jamie. I can just imagine how scared my dogs would be. I remember a couple of earthquake rumbles when I was in Toronto, but nothing as loud as this … just a little floor shaking that didn’t last very long. I definitely feel for those people where earthquakes are regular occurrences. Here’s to hoping that you don’t have to feel one again!


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  3. I’ve survived 2 Ontario earthquakes. One I thought was a bus driving by the house, or maybe a heavy truck, but it lasted too long for either. The other occurred while I had my class at Science North and the Blue Coats had to tell us about it because we hadn’t noticed a thing.

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  4. Wow. I’ve been through a few little earthquakes in Ontario, but I, too, would not have put you in an earthquake zone.

    I am genuinely curious about this statement, though, because I encounter it so often and it is one of the things that causes uncertainty for me when I read it.

    “I can now add “earthquake” to the list of Ontario weather things from Sue Kwiecien.”

    So let me back up a moment. I am trying to read with this in mind:

    “To be curious about how someone else interprets things, we have to be
    willing to admit that we’re not capable of figuring things out alone. If our
    solutions don’t work as well as we want them to, if our explanations of why
    something happened don’t feel sufficient, it’s time to begin asking others
    about what they see and think. When so many interpretations are available, I
    can’t understand why we would be satisfied with superficial conversations
    where we pretend to agree with one another.

    There are many ways to sit and listen for the differences. Lately, I’ve been
    listening for what surprises me. What did I just hear that startled me? This
    isn’t easy – I’m accustomed to sitting there nodding my head to those saying
    things I agree with. But when I notice what surprises me, I’m able to see my
    own views more dearly, including my beliefs and assumptions.”

    from https://www.ode.state.or.us/opportunities/grants/saelp/willing-to-be-disturbed.pdf

    So many of my past students connected earthquakes to climate change, so I have always wondered about the connection between earthquakes and weather – and now I see it again.

    Can you help me with that connection?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Donna! I read that line but it didn’t register much with me as I’ve not encountered anything that classifies earthquakes as a weather event. Making a connection between a non-weather event and climate change, however, make sense if we zoom back out and look at everything as interconnected on our planet.

    It makes sense that fracking can cause earthquakes:

    National Geographic provides a nice summary of how humans are contributing to earthquake events:

    I’m grateful that Ontario is nicely centred within the North American plate, far from the plate boundaries and stabilized by the mass of the Canadian Shield. We are not immune, but we are not prone to worrying about earthquakes on a regular basis. 🙂


  6. I’ve been through one in a classroom, and we hardly felt it. Had a couple shakes during the 6 years I lived in Ottawa, but nothing huge. I have to admit I liked Brian Aspinall’s social media message that after last weekend’s flooding and then the earthquake, he’s on the lookout for locusts!

    Liked by 1 person

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