Earthquakes shake up Lake County area

Derek Lenehan

Two earthquakes shook the Lake County area in early January, disturbing residents in Mentor, Painesville and Madison. Both earthquakes occurred within one week. No major damage was reported.

“The two earthquakes were extremely close, both along the Lake County shoreline, beneath Lake Erie,” said Robert Bartolotta, of the Ohio Seismic Network’s Cleveland office.

The first rumbling was reported on Jan. 5 at 10:02 p.m. and was a magnitude 2.5. The second happened Jan. 13 at 10:32 a.m. and was a preliminary magnitude 2.3.

Bartolotta reflected on the increased seismic activity in the Lake County area during the last year and attributed it to a new fault line.

“In the Lake County area, there have been seven earthquakes since February 2005. It may be the defining of the Akron magnetic boundary, which runs from Summit County to western Ashtabula County. These recent earthquakes seem to be occurring parallel to that fault,” he said.

Donald F. Palmer, chair of the Kent State department of geology, spoke of another local fault line.

“It’s a little known fault that runs along Lake Erie up to the north Adirondack mountains in New York. It’s very active, but produces very small earthquakes,” he said. “Kent doesn’t receive much seismic activity, being so far from the fault. Basically anywhere south of Chardon won’t get much activity.”

Despite its location, Kent has seismic monitoring equipment and has sustained earthquake damage in the past, Palmer said.

“We have a seismometer capable of detecting earthquakes from great distances, anywhere from California, to Alaska, to China,” he said.

In the 1980s, an earthquake cracked bricks in several buildings on campus.

“During an earthquake, buildings flex back and forth, and bricks don’t flex very well. I want to emphasize that it doesn’t mean that the building’s foundation is in jeopardy if its bricks crack,” Palmer said.

McGilvery Hall was the most mentioned of the buildings damaged during the earthquake, he added, though that may be because the building houses the geology department.

“We had to go outside and check our own building, of course,” Palmer said.

Contact academic affairs reporter Derek Lenehan at [email protected].