Seismograph in Carbondale picks up California earthquake - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Seismograph in Carbondale picks up California earthquake

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(WSIL) -- The 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit southern California last week was so strong that it was picked up on equipment at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Harvey Henson, Interim Director for the STEM Education Research Center and Assistant Professor, says, “We definitely saw those large magnitude earthquakes and many of the smaller aftershocks or foreshocks on our instruments.”

So how was an earthquake nearly 1,900 miles from southern Illinois picked up by a local seismograph? Henson says it all has to do with energy waves. 

Henson explains, “These acoustic waves especially from the large earthquakes the 7.1, the 6.4, travel great distance" and he says it only takes a matter of minutes for them to travel to the Midwest.

Henson elaborates,  “You can think of a seismograph as an electronic version of a mass on a string so when that small mass responds to the energy vibrating through, it’s because it’s free to move up, down, sideways or a combination of those directions.”

Southern Illinois Native Kelsey Gion says she’s lived in Southern California for four years now and it was by far the biggest earthquake she has ever felt.

Gion says, “I started to feel this rocking sensation and at first it didn’t process that we were having an earthquake but after a couple seconds I was like 'Oh wow, this is a really big one!' and I started hearing creaking from the apartments above us. This pool that is normally really still was sloshing around and the water was pouring up over the edges.”

The pools sloshing water are a great visual of how powerful these earthquakes are. However, those energy waves affect much more than pool water- they also impact buildings, gas lines, and electricity.  Henson says people in our region should pay attention to what's happening in California.

Henson explains, “If a magnitude 7 or even a magnitude 6 were to happen somewhere in the Midwest say along the New Madrid seismic zone or some of the other seismic-active regions, you could expect wide-scale and large-scale damage.”

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