A Whole Lotta Shakin'
A small earthquake triggers a seismic overreaction in Maine.
At 7:12 p.m. on October 16, the earth moved under York County, sending shivers all the way to New Jersey and Montreal. How did Mainers react to this rare magnitude-4.5 earthquake?
First, they rushed into the street looking for signs of an explosion or vehicle pileup.
Next, they cracked jokes.
Californians, forgive us. We know your dangerous earthquakes are no laughing matter. But the Great Quake of 2012 brought out Mainers’ silly side. Photos of tipped-over lawn chairs with the declaration “We will rebuild” appeared in Facebook posts. Tongue-in-cheek morale boosters like “God bless Maine!” and “Courage!” fired into the Twittersphere.
Still, the quake, whose epicenter was East Waterboro, was the strongest to hit since June 15, 1973, when a magnitude-4.8 tremor occurred in northern Oxford County near the Maine-Quebec border, says Robert Marvinney, Maine state geologist and director of the ACF Division of Geology, Natural Areas and Coastal Resource. October’s quake emitted an explosive bang — that, Marvinney explains, was likely the sound wave created as the ground compressed and extended along the fault plane.
As for the Facebook and Twitter jokes, they were far more numerous than Maine quakes. “Believe me,” Marvinney says of the online wisecracks, “I’ve seen them all.” —V.M.W.