Quake Shakes Residents, But Causes No Damage


The shaking woke Pam Wiebe from a deep sleep; her heavy, king-sized log bed rocked as the earth rumbled underneath.

An earthquake, registering 4.6 on the Richter scale, shimmied through parts of the Rim country early Wednesday morning.

"It was just like if you grab ahold of something and shake, and it lasted five to six seconds," said Wiebe, an employee of the Cracker Crate General Store.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred 26 miles southwest of Winslow, Ariz. at a depth of about 3.2 miles below the surface.

USGS rated the quake a IV, on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale throughout the Rim country.

The scale measures intensity, meaning, at a IV -- XXI being the most intense, causing total damage -- if you were indoors, you were more likely to feel the shaking, and if you were asleep, the movement was strong enough to wake you.

"I was sleeping real good and it woke me up," said Wiebe.

In late January, two moderate earthquakes, scoring II-III on the Mercalli scale happened in the same location, both 28 miles southwest of Winslow.

Dr. David Brumbaugh, director of Northern Arizona University's Arizona Earthquake Information Center, said the recent spate of tremors is called a swarm.

"These are fault-related earthquakes," said Brumbaugh. "It's the release of force and stress. A similar sequence happened 16 years ago."

Brumbaugh said over time pressure builds in the two dozen major faults throughout Arizona's three most seismically active areas: Flagstaff/Grand Canyon; Sedona and the Blue Ridge area, which is where this week's earthquake occurred.

Brumbaugh couldn't say conclusively whether the earthquakes were part of a chain reaction, but he did say that his group continues to study the cluster of events and monitor the area for new earthquakes.

"We're still collecting data," said Brumbaugh. "It's a really remote area. It's forest and there's a lot of volcanic rock there. It's hard to say where the faults are."

Meanwhile, 125 people reported feeling the quake to the USGS since Wednesday morning from around Arizona and as far away as 275 miles in Tucson.

Gila County Sheriff's Office dispatcher Fritz Day said there were no reports of injuries or damage from the earthquake.

"We got no calls from anybody for anything," said Day.

For more information about Arizona seismology, call the Arizona Geological Survey at (520) 770-3500 or visit their website: www.azgs.state.az.us.

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