Central Indiana earthquake shakes Chicagoans

December 30, 2010 (CHICAGO)

"It startled me. I didn't know what it was," she said.

Hill woke up to an earthquake centered roughly 127 miles southeast of Chicago near Kokomo, Ind., but it was also felt by people on the city's West Side.

"Just kind of a shake, like a big old violent shake, like someone's trying to wake you up," said Chicago resident Jessenia Merritt.

The 3.8 magnitude earthquake hit portions of central Indiana around 7 a.m. In Greentown, Ind., people like Garret Sullivan and his mother Karen said it felt like a loaded semitruck came rumbling by.

"When I came downstairs, there were things off the shelves and off the wall. My son actually felt his bed hitting the wall," Karen Sullivan said.

"My bed started to hit this wall. These toys fell off and that one fell over. I though it was a tornado and a bulldozer," Garret Sullivan said.

Geologists say there are no known fault lines at the epicenter of the quake, but add that in the central United States, many are not mapped.

This quake is not the first of its kind or strength to strike the same area. It's happened twice before: on September 4, 2004 with a magnitude of 3.8, and on April 18, 1990 with a magnitude of 3.0.

While experts say the frequency of earthquakes happening in central Indiana is low, when they do hit, they are widely felt.

"The rock underneath the ground is very old and consolidated, so they transmit the seismic energy really well. So even a small earthquake in the eastern U.S. is felt very widely," said Paul Caruso with the U.S. Geological Survey.

A seismograph at the Da Vinci Academy in Elgin registered the vibrations. Science teacher Rod Allen hopes to use it as a tool to educate his students.

"I pick up about 70, 80, 90 earthquakes a year with it. Anything local," Allen said.

So far, there have been no reports of major damage or injuries from the earthquake that rattled not only residents in parts of several other Midwestern states but also Chicago resident Gerald James.

"It's kind of crazy. They keep happening. You can't control it. It's like the weather -- you can't control earthquakes," James said.

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