Well, I have to say, today was very eventful. An earthquake, a real earthquake, originated in Virginia and was felt all up and down the East Coast and into Canada and west to Ohio. Crazy!
I think I sort of scared one of my coworkers a little–she asked if our architecture out here in Maryland accounts for earthquakes and I told her that it does, but not to the same extent that architecture in California, for example, must account for earthquakes. We get quakes so infrequently that it would be expensive and relatively pointless to build every structure super-earthquake-resistant. She got more scared after that and understood why we were all so freaked out. My office building reminded me of a tossing boat, except that I like boats. But it definitely shook and felt like the ground was bucking or rolling or however you want to describe it.
I’m sure everyone is like “OK, OK, enough about the earthquake, there wasn’t even damage”– but there’s so much more to it than just a relatively minor incident. I find it helpful to think about the power of the earth in these kinds of situations. I mean, if Mother Nature wanted to get rid of us pesky humans, she could do so fairly quickly–just unleash a few earthquakes, a few hurricanes or tornadoes, a wildfire or two, and most of humanity is gone. When put in that kind of context, it’s easier to see that this sort of incident shouldn’t really be shaken off and forgotten. It’s easier to appreciate the power of the earth when you have a visible and tangible reminder.
In Maryland, where I live and work, there have been 64 earthquakes from 1758 to 2007. That works out to an average of .25 earthquakes per year (if I have my math correct–please correct me if I’m wrong). Most were insignificant, not even reaching 3.0 on the Richter scale (for comparison, the March 2011 Japanese earthquake was an 8 or 9). It’s more likely for Marylanders to feel earthquakes originating in other states rather than have an earthquake originate in-state.
Today’s earthquake was a 5.9–not insignificant, and actually a pretty decent-sized earthquake.
Which makes you wonder if something’s going on in the earth that the earthquakes are increasing in intensity and frequency. This is the third earthquake I’ve either been in or heard of in the last 4 years (though only two of those actually originated in Maryland–the other originated in Virginia). I don’t want to bring up global warming, because that doesn’t seem very likely to be a cause of earthquakes, but the natural disasters and weather patterns certainly do seem to be changing in pattern or intensity over the last few years.
Maryland just doesn’t get strong earthquakes. We just don’t. It’s highly, highly unusual, and I can’t help but wonder why these things have been happening.