By now, I suspect it will surprise no one to hear that we had a small earthquake here on the East Coast.

Ok, not so small. 5.9 on the Richter Scale (or, by some reports, 5.8). Now, if you're like me and can count the number of times you've been in a quake on one hand (yes, it's more than one), that number doesn't mean a whole lot.

Here's what it meant for me: my lab is centrally located in a pretty solid building on campus. The tremors were strong enough to rattle all the glassware on the shelves, the chemical hood behind me, and create a swaying sensation (easily felt as I was cowering cleverly crouched under my desk).

It was very disorienting, especially in the few seconds it took me to figure things out. I work alone, so there was no one I could ask "did you feel that?" until well after it was over.

The University's response was strange. Emergency notification came in the form of two email (in the 15-20 minutes post-quake), and a robocall (about 35 minutes after). There was then an "evacuation" of our building, but not others in the continuous complex.

I was actually amused by the warning time, although considering the size of the campus and the coordination required it was probably pretty fast. This might spinoff a post about the expectation of immediate information - for example, how facebook blew up with info immediately - and how social media could be put to use by emergency notification systems.

But I digress.

After milling around a while, I "snuck" back in, finished my work, and left.

Even though the buildings were reopened, police remained on the corners of MLK. I'm not sure what they were looking for, but as of 4:30 or so they showed no signs of moving. Some of them looked like they'd been pulled on duty - still in jeans and plain tee shirts, with only a police vest to mark them.

At the corner of MLK and Pratt Street.

It was a very odd day, courtesy of what might have been the Spotsylvania Fault Line, according to a report on NPR (I couldn't find the link, but the quake already has its own Wiki Page).

Oh yes, and everyone I know seems to be alright.

What was your Earthquake experience?


  1. We were having a math team meeting where everyone was working very astutely reading articles to share when everything started shaking. Since we have been getting construction and the guys on the roof have been dropping things we figured it was that except it didn't stop...then there was the lull and then it started up again at full force and we decided we needed to exit. We went through the door to the science room which is my normal fire drill way out except that the science room was a box maze since those rooms were completely renovated....ooops shaking ground trying to maneuver around boxes you can see how this would be comical. By the time we made it outside the shaking was ending and then the announcement was made to evacuate. Quite an interesting experience

  2. In NE PA I felt nothing, although some people did. I saw a tall book rack I use for printed handouts swaying so knew something was up and the people I was taking to in Philadelphia at Temple said "We have to get off the phone, the building is shaking". All in all very surreal to me. So glad to hear no one was hurt.