Really. A Texas earthquake. September 15, 2007.
Missed it? Well, it was at the dinner hour, 06:16:42 PM (CDT). You may have thought it was Bubba’s great sauce for the barbecue, or the raspberry in the iced tea.
US Geological Survey provides a state-by-state listing of latest earthquakes. Texas is not a particularly active zone — but there are quakes, even here.
This last one, just over a week ago, was a 2.7 on the Richter scale, too weak to merit much news coverage even in the flatlands. It shook Milam County and surprised people there, but it didn’t do much damage:
In terms of destruction, the earthquake was hardly significant.
Emergency responders said they knew of only one report of damage: A teapot fell off of a woman’s stove.
In California, people probably wouldn’t have even noticed the tremor. But this earthquake happened in the Lone Star State and left Brazos Valley residents baffled.
“You just don’t expect your house to shake,” said Burleson County resident Karen Bolt. She was in her trailer home cleaning dishes when the temblor began.
USGS provides more details than you can use:
Saturday, September 15, 2007 at 23:16:42 (UTC) – Coordinated Universal Time
Saturday, September 15, 2007 at 06:16:42 PM local time at epicenter
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones
||35 km (20 miles) W of Bryan, Texas
65 km (40 miles) ENE of Taylor, Texas
110 km (70 miles) ENE of AUSTIN, Texas
170 km (105 miles) NW of Houston, Texas
||Error estimate: horizontal +/- 16.2 km; depth fixed by location program
||Nst=4, Nph=4, Dmin=123.3 km, Rmss=1.25 sec, Erho=16.2 km, Erzz=0 km, Gp=130.4 degrees
||USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
||Felt in the Caldwell-Rockdale area.
Still, Texans should be relieved it was a small one. The largest recorded Texas earthquake was in 1931, with an epicenter near Valentine. At 5.7 magnitude and VII intensity, it nearly destroyed the little town of Valentine.
In terms of magnitude and damage, this is the largest earthquake known to have occurred in Texas. The most severe damage was reported at Valentine, where all buildings except wood-frame houses were damaged severely and all brick chimneys toppled or were damaged. The schoolhouse, which consisted of one section of concrete blocks and another section of bricks, was damaged so badly that it had to be rebuilt. Small cracks formed in the schoolhouse yard. Some walls collapsed in adobe buildings, and ceilings and partitions were damaged in wood-frame structures. Some concrete and brick walls were cracked severely. One low wall, reinforced with concrete, was broken and thrown down. Tombstones in a local cemetery were rotated. Damage to property was reported from widely scattered points in Brewster, Jeff Davis, Culberson, and Presidio Counties. Landslides occurred in the Van Horn Mountaiins, southwest of Lobo; in the Chisos Mountains, in the area of Big Bend; and farther northwest, near Pilares and Porvenir. Landslides also occurred in the Guadalupe Mountains, near Carlsbad, New Mexico, and slides of rock and dirt were reported near Picacho, New Mexico. Well water and springs were muddied throughout the area. Also felt in parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, and in Chihauhua and Coahuila, Mexico.
Texas history courses could make some use of these data, for map reading exercises, and for general geography about the state. Click on the map below, the isoseismal map of the 1931 Valentine, Texas quake, and geography teachers will begin to dream of warm-up exercises right away.
USGS offers a wealth of information on Texas’ geology and geography — stream flow information, drought information — collected in one spot for each state in a “Science in your backyard” feature.
Pick your state, pick your topic, and go.