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Punxsy residents agree: We felt the quake here, too

August 23, 2011

Professor of Mathematics and Geosciences Richard Brazier (left) and Research Associate Jordi Julia set up the seismometer in the basement of Symmco House, DuBois. (Photo courtesy of PSU-DuBois)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Whether they were working, sleeping or just taking a second to enjoy the weather, several residents felt tremors from Tuesday’s 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Virginia.

The Spirit’s phone lines became quite busy after readers in the area felt tremors from the quake, which was centered around Mineral, Va., about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, Va., according to the the U.S. Geological Survey.

Susam Grim, owner of SuzyB Knits in Smicksburg, said the quake “shook the whole house,” while Cookie White, of Bell Township, said her husband, Jack, a representative on the Punxsutawney Area School Board, was looking over some board documents and felt tremors while sitting on the couch.

Meanwhile, Andrew Cary, of the Anita area, was asleep when he felt the bed shaking. He said he thought “someone was messing with me.”

Steve Harmic, public information officer at Penn State-DuBois, said classes have begun at the branch campus, but added that a text statement from University Park said there were no reports of damage or injuries at any PSU campus.

“I heard the walls; they sounded like they were crackling,” Harmic said. “It’s weird, because my office is in a 19th century mansion (1 College Place). We’re talking an old structure, and the walls moaned a little bit.”

PSU-DuBois did chart the magnitude on a seismometer — which monitors seismic phenomena, such as earthquakes and explosions — housed in the basement of Symmco House, the PSU-DuBois administrative building.

Harmic said the device was installed in February, and did pick up a few small measurements during the tsunamis and earthquakes in Japan in March.
The seismometer is part of a regional Penn State Network called PASEIS, part of a global network of seismic stations all stored at IRIS, a consortium of more than 100 American universities dedicated to the operation of science facilities for the acquisition, management and distribution of seismological data.

In a campus-issued statement in February, Professor of Mathematics and Geosciences Richard Brazier said the seismometer on campus will have a great deal of activity to monitor, given the high level of drilling activity surrounding Marcellus Shale.

“With the Penn State networks, we’ll be able to follow where they are currently looking for gas,” he said. “The data can be used to describe the subsurface on a broader scale than the gas companies as well providing data that can aid in discriminating between earthquakes and explosions.”

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