May 30, 2020

Minor earthquake strikes southeast of Waterville

A minor earthquake – strong enough to be felt, but not strong enough to worry federal officials – shook part of Maine on Thursday morning.

The National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo., said the earthquake occurred at 6:07 a.m., centered 15 miles southeast of Waterville.

Waverly Person, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said someone working at a weather station in Maine felt the quake, and called the earthquake center. The center then reviewed information from its measuring stations in New England and New York to confirm the details.

The earthquake was a magnitude 3.2, according to the center’s bulletin.

“That’s minor,” Person said. “We get these type all the time.”

The survey has seismographs that are equipped with alarms, alerting the center to earthquakes of magnitudes of 4.5 or more.

Earthquakes are classified by their severity, ranging from minor (3 to 3.9), to light (4 to 4.9), moderate (5 to 5.9), strong (6 to 6.9), major (7 to 7.9) and great (8 and higher).

The survey put the center of the quake at 15 miles southeast of Waterville, or in the South China-Windsor area.

Diana Choate of nearby Coopers Mills, who works at Hussey’s General Store in Windsor, said she was aware of the quake at home.

“I felt it,” she said Thursday afternoon. “It was just a big rumbling. It was loud and you could feel it. I thought it was my furnace.”

After a moment, she realized the noise was not coming from the furnace, and she and her son concluded they had experienced an earthquake.

Choate said the store’s owner, who lives in Windsor, reported that windows in his home rattled about 6 a.m. The store’s phones were busy Thursday morning with calls from area residents, curious about whether others had experienced what seemed to be an earthquake, Choate said.

The state Emergency Management Agency received no reports of damage from the quake Thursday.

The earthquake center’s Web site reports that the first earthquake reported in Maine was in 1817, though others were felt in Maine in the 1600s and 1700s. In 1904, an earthquake was strong enough to topple some chimneys in Eastport and Calais, while a shock in 1912 affected an area of approximately 20,000 square miles and reached a magnitude of 5.6 in the Bangor area.

In 1918, an earthquake damaged chimneys in South Paris and Norway, and in 1943, a quake centered in Dover-Foxcroft was felt over 50,000 square miles.

The last earthquake to hit Maine occurred on Jan. 17 in Rumford and measured a 3.4 magnitude. It was the third temblor in Maine since a Christmas Eve quake outside Bangor that measured 2.4.

About half the three to six quakes strong enough to be felt in New England each year occur in Maine.

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