DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Earthquakes occur when tectonic plates below the surface grind against each other, building up energy, until one plate slips, releasing energy, sending shockwaves through the ground, and eventually to buildings and structures.
The highest magnitude earthquake in Ohio struck in 1937 as a magnitude 5.4 in Anna, dubbed the “Earthquake capital of Ohio”, but how common are they in the state?
Jeff Fox, seismologist at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Geological Survey, said, “It’s not that often that we get the larger ones that do damage. We probably haven’t had a good one that’s done damages since the late eighties. The one up on Lake County. But we do get every once in a while, we get threes and fours that get a lot of attention because those are pretty widely felt.”
Dayton has seen only 3 Earthquakes since 1700, indicating a fault line that is most likely very deep, but in the Northern Miami Valley, seismic activity occurs closer to the surface, where there are many fault lines.
“Most of the faults we have in Ohio are buried deeply under hundreds of feet of glacial till or miles of sedimentary bedrock. So, most of the bigger falls that generate earthquakes are what we call the sub-basement rocks or the Precambrian rocks.”
Earthquakes are felt differently from the West Coast to the east coast, which is why the small 3.6 magnitude earthquake in Northeast Ohio could be felt in other states.
Dr. Dan Sturmer, Associate professor in the Geosciences department at the University of Cincinnati, said, “Those waves kind of have more juice. They travel a little farther in Ohio because there are fewer faults and because the crust is cooler. You have an equivalent earthquake in L.A. and it wouldn’t be felt across L.A., probably.”
Experts also say that the number of earthquakes year to year is relatively the same, but better technology and research has made detecting seismic activity easier.