A 3.2-magnitude earthquake was reported near Monroe on Friday evening.
The earthquake occurred about 6:55 p.m. Friday about 3 km south-southeast from Detroit Beach, roughly two miles off-shore of William C. Sterling State Park, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Light to weak shaking was reported as far as Bowling Green, Ohio, up through Sterling Heights, Michigan and into Canada, according to the survey’s community internet intensity map, as updated about 8:10 p.m.
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While the small earthquake likely caused little damage – a few cracks in the stucco of a driveway are possible – it was big for the area, said USGS geophysicist Jana Pursley, who works at the National Earthquake Information Center.
Earthquakes can happen anywhere there are weaknesses in the Earth’s crust and while there could be weaknesses in the metro Detroit area, they aren’t very active, she said.
In California the crust is full of faults and other features, so the energy from a 3.2-magnitude would weaken much faster, she said.
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“In the Detroit area, geologically speaking, the crust is very old and so it does not attenuate very well,” she said. “… So everybody around the earthquake will feel it much stronger than in comparison to California.”
That means it also has the potential be felt much farther away, she said.
Still, in these cases, the trembling felt is often very minor and occurs in just seconds, she said.
“Most people will likely feel more like a bang,” she said. “And it will feel like your washer that perhaps misbalanced with the load. If you lean against the wall you might feel the jolt, but it’s very short-lived.”
There is a potential for aftershocks, but that couldn’t be predicted, she said.
The vibrations were reported to be about 1.7 km in depth initially, though later the USGS reported that, with some uncertainty, the depth could be 9.2 km
Though small, the Friday evening earthquake was an intriguing occurrence in a seismically quiet region, said Pursley.
Since the 2000s, there was one other quake reported of comparable magnitude nearby, she said. It was a 3.4-magnitude quake just across the river, east of Amherstburg in Canada.
Most notably, in 2015, Michigan saw its largest earthquake since 1947. The 4.4-magnitude quake occurred about nine miles southeast of Kalamazoo.
Original reports from the USGS had Friday’s earthquake at a 3.4 magnitude.
Michigan residents took to social media following the rumblings to recount their own tales of the earthquake, comment on its place in the problem-packed year of 2020, or add a bit of levity to the occurrence.
Some posted about feeling it in Dearborn, near the Detroit Metro Airport, or on Grosse Ile, others posted the image of a fallen plastic chair that circulates on occasion with minor quakes. The chair photo is often paired with the words “we will rebuild.”
The quake was a bit more of a shock to the system for Bianca Pascarella, 21, of Frenchtown Township, however.
She lives just minutes away from Detroit Beach and was in her bed scrolling through Twitter when she felt her home shake.
“It was like a low, deep rumble – like a really strong wave,” she said.
It lasted only about five or 10 seconds, but she was spooked, she said. She is Lebanese and still has family in Lebanon, where a large explosion in early August killed, according to the latest Al Jazeera report, at least 180 people.
“I’m kind of on edge because of that, so when this earthquake happened today, I just ran to my bathroom (for safety),” she said.
Some of Pascarella’s family members had been on the porch of their Frenchtown Township home, but came inside when the shaking occurred, she said.
The family decided it was likely a truck rolled by and caused the shaking. Then they saw the news.
The Monroe News, also reported residents’ stories of items falling off their walls or assuming an explosion had occurred.