IU seismologists researching quake - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

IU seismologists researching quake

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The seismographs at IU's geology department were active Friday morning. The seismographs at IU's geology department were active Friday morning.
Laura Jones, student Laura Jones, student
Prof. Michael Hamburger Prof. Michael Hamburger

Rich Van Wyk/Eyewitness News

Bloomington - Friday's earthquake caused some confusion and consternation among central Indiana residents who aren't used to quake events. But for some researchers at Indiana University, it's a golden opportunity.

On the fourth floor of Indiana University's geology building, just after 5:30 am, Laura Jones was doing her geology homework.

"Our pencils started to shake and a lot of the glass in the room started to shake. It almost felt like a wave went through the floor. You kind of felt the room tilt a little and shake," she said.

Meanwhile downstairs, seismographs recorded the earth-quaking action.

"Oh my God - this is a big one!" said Prof. Michael Hamburger, IU professor of geological sciences. He says Friday's earthquake is big for north America.

"This earthquake was big enough that the vibrations continued for at least 15 or 20 minutes after the earthquake started. It's one of the biggest earthquakes we've recorded from this region in many years," said Hamburger.

At 5.4 on the Richter scale, it's the biggest quake to rattle the Midwest and Eastern United States in 40 years.

"This is very common for earthquakes in this area - a long period of quiescence for many years; an earthquake; there's definitely a series of aftershocks, smaller earthquakes that are gonna follow it for the next several days but there's no indication this is the beginning of a new period of heightened activity but it's something we'll be keeping an eye on," said Hamburger.

IU students are heading to the epicenter in southeast Illinois, joining other researchers to see what they can learn from the biggest quake in four decades.

Meantime, Professor Hamburger - a seismologist - slept through it.  "I'm hoping to be here for the one in the next 40 years," he said, smiling.

Learn more about this earthquake.

See a seismograph showing earthquake activity.

Share your pictures.

Upload your earthquake video!

Report your earthquake experience to USGS.

Earthquake facts.

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