Magnitude-3.6 earthquake rattles southeast Michigan: U-M experts available
A magnitude-3.6 earthquake rattled southeast Michigan and parts of Ontario on Thursday night. University of Michigan experts are available to discuss it.
Larry Ruff, professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, is a seismologist who studies large earthquakes around the world.
“This earthquake is unusual. It is the most significant earthquake in this area since the pair of Michigan events back in May and June of 2015,” Ruff said. “A magnitude-4.2 earthquake hit near Galesburg in Kalamazoo County in May 2015, and was followed the next month by a smaller one. The May 2015 earthquake near Galesburg was the largest quake in Michigan since 1947 and the second-largest in records dating back roughly a century.”
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Eric Hetland is a geophysicist and associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. His work is broadly concerned with lithospheric deformation, principally the inference of the mechanical properties of the crust and upper mantle from observations.
“Earthquakes in and near the Lower Peninsula of Michigan are rare but not unheard of. The seismicity in the area north of Lake Erie is lower than the area to the south of the lake or in western New York state,” Hetland said. “Michigan is basically a big bathtub filled with sediments, which is the reason it has fewer earthquakes than surrounding regions.”
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Yihe Huang, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, studies the physical mechanisms of earthquakes and faulting processes using both observational methods (e.g., seismic data analysis) and numerical tools (e.g., earthquake rupture simulation).
There have been several fairly small earthquakes around Lake Erie in the past couple years that were likely not felt by area residents, Huang said. There was a magnitude-2.6 earthquake north of Lake Erie in 2017 and a magnitude-2.5 earthquake west of Lake Erie in 2016.
Some more comparable earthquakes include a magnitude-3.2 earthquake south of Lake Erie in 2013 and a magnitude-3.0 earthquake south of it in 2010, she said.
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Ben van der Pluijm is an earthquake geologist and professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
“Personal injury from these small continental interior quakes is very unlikely, but some nearby damage is possible when they are shallow in origin, like this one,” van der Pluijm said. “Because of the strong bedrock, they are felt over a much wider region than similar-sized quakes on the West Coast.”
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