Small quake rattles part of state
Southwest Indiana feels tremors of 2.9 temblor

By Kurt Van der Dussen,
Herald-Times Staff Writer

January 4, 2003

For the second time in seven months, the Wabash Valley earthquake fault system has shifted in its sleep.

A minor quake measured at intensity 2.9 rippled through the Evansville-Mount Vernon area at 11:17 a.m. Friday.

It was felt in Posey and Vanderburgh counties of far southwest Indiana, as well as the Henderson-to-Paducah area of western Kentucky and in parts of southeastern Illinois.

No damage or injuries have been reported as a result of the quake.

Indiana University seismologist Michael Hamburger said the quake's epicenter appears to have been near the hamlet of New Haven, Ill., on the Wabash River about 10 miles north of the convergence of Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

The quake was significantly smaller than the intensity-5 June 18 quake about 20 miles to the east, just north of Evansville. That one shook southwestern Indiana, southern Illinois and western Kentucky, and was felt by some people as far away as Chicago and Memphis.

On the earthquake intensity scale, most commonly called the Richter Scale, a 5-point quake is 100 times more powerful than a 3-point quake and 10 times stronger than a 4-point quake.

The Wabash Valley Fault System is a latticework of faults that run north along the river valley from the Ohio River to Terre Haute. Every 15 to 20 years, it produces a 5-point quake — enough to rattle dishes and windows, wobble floor lamps and crack weak brick chimneys.

But geological and archaeological research during the past decade has shown the system has produced major quakes, as great as intensity 7, in the far past. Such a quake today would cause serious damage in Evansville, Vincennes and Terre Haute and some damage in places such as Bloomington and Bedford.

Reporter Kurt Van der Dussen can be reached at 331-4372 or by e-mail at

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