Did you feel it?

by Micah on December 9, 2003

So I’m sitting in the library today when the shelves around me start to shake. And I’m thinking to myself: death by books? There must be better ways to go. “4.5”:http://pasadena.wr.usgs.gov/shake/cus/ on the Richter scale. Not bad for “Virginia”:http://pasadena.wr.usgs.gov/shake/cus/STORE/Xcdbf_03/ciim_display.html.

bq. UPDATE: the “Roanoke Times”:http://www.roanoke.com/roatimes/news/story159584.html reports that this “was the strongest earthquake in central Virginia since 1875 . . . Central Virginia’s strongest earthquake in the past century took place in August 1984 and was centered near Charlottesville . . . It was a magnitude 4.1.”



Ophelia Benson 12.10.03 at 1:58 am

Ooh, I sympathize. I didn’t feel it, on account of how Seattle is a bit too far from Virginia for that, but there was a big one in Seattle in February ’01 – by far the biggest I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve experienced several (including one in Iowa – go figure). I too thought ‘death by books?’ I was standing in front of my bookshelves (board and block and six feet tall, totally insecure) at the time. They slammed back and forth for a long time, I did think everything was going to pitch forward onto the floor. But it didn’t. It was damned exciting though. Someone I know who owns a huge used bookstore crouched on the floor wondering if the books or the plate glass windows would get her – and then huge chunks of masonry from the top of the building started smashing onto the sidewalk.

(I forget what the number was. 4 something, I think. But 4 what…)


Ophelia Benson 12.10.03 at 2:02 am

Good god, was I off. It was a 6.8. Jeezis! I’d forgotten it was that high. No wonder we were all quivering.


Ophelia Benson 12.10.03 at 2:05 am

By the way, I meant I was standing in front of the shelves when it started. I’m dim, but I’m not that dim – I moved away from them.

Actually it was interesting the way it started – nobody knew what it was at first, because there were two sharp, separate jolts, before the real quaking started. Everybody in the whole city thought it was something, anything, other than an earthquake, at first.


Dan Simon 12.10.03 at 2:09 am

Forget books–at the time of that Seattle quake in ’01, I was….in the dentist’s chair.

They called it a 6.5, but that was only because of a way-out-of-line 7.5 from the Russian judge.


Ophelia Benson 12.10.03 at 2:21 am

Ew! I hope there wasn’t anything sharp in your mouth at the time.


Dan Simon 12.10.03 at 2:30 am

Fortunately, I was only having an impression made. And let me tell you, an impression was made.


Doug 12.10.03 at 11:35 am

The first one I noticed was a couple of summers back when the Dolomites sent a wave all the way to Munich. I was up on the sixth floor when the office slid a bit outward and I thought, “What a funny thing for a building to do.” But that was it. Some people in the Dolomites weren’t as lucky. Until then, I hadn’t really counted the idea that Africa may move the mountain underneath you as one of the challenges of Alpine hiking and climbing, but that’s what put the peaks there in the first place.


Another Damned Medievalist 12.10.03 at 7:02 pm

I think the Pacific NW has more than its fair share of bloggophiles. I was much closer to the epicenter in ’01 — we were living in Federal Way, about 20 miles south of Seattle, and there were no jolts, just really long rolls. I’d been through a 5.3 quake before but what was weird about the Seattle quake was how long it lasted. My sympathies to Micah — at least on the west coast of N. America we kind of expect the bloody things.


nofundy 12.10.03 at 7:14 pm

It was centered in Lynchburg. It is a sign from God that Jerry Falwell better repent or Pat Robertson will pray a really big one on him next time.


Sebastian Holsclaw 12.10.03 at 8:07 pm

You can feel earthquakes at less than 5.0? ;)

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