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Following the happenings of The News-Herald Community Media Lab, as well as the library and archive, where we're digging to find historic people, places, events and things to see how much the times have changed or how much they have stayed the same.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Earthquake centered in Leroy Township rocked region 26 years ago today

Thanks to a tweet from Mark Johnson of WEWS-TV 5, I learned that 26 years ago today, an earthquake shook Northeast Ohio and portions of the Midwest.

On Jan. 31, 1986, I was a 15-month-old living in Macedonia, so my memories of the quake are nonexistent. But thanks to N-H Librarian Cindy Buchanan and our archive, I was able to learn more about the 5.0-magnitude temblor centered in Leroy Township.

The news of the morning quake made it in to that day's edition of The News-Herald because it was an afternoon paper at the time. (Click any images in this post to enlarge and read the clippings.)

The main story was followed by a map of the quakes reach, report of injuries, initial suspicion of what the quake was (including a sonic boom caused by the Challenger explosion) and a series of aftershocks.

I blogged previously about how the Perry Nuclear Power Plant is always prepared for a disaster, and the 1986 quake was evidence of that. Cost of opening the plant was increased and the opening delayed.

After the quake, scientists studied Geauga County, looking for any more seismological activity.

Six months later, scientists reported that the quake's epicenter was in Leroy Township -- instead of Hambden Township or Thompson Township, as originally thought. In that time scientists also reported there were 13 aftershocks through March 24, damage was limited to some structural issues and items falling, and 15 people reported injuries.

What scientists didn't know at that time was the cause. One suspicion was brine disposal in wells at Calhio Chemicals Inc. in Perry Township. That hypothesis also was reported on in March 1986:

Sound familiar? Recently, underground injections have been blamed for quakes in the Youngstown area. For more on that, see Expert: Wastewater well in Youngstown triggered quakes, Earthquakes could incite fracking policy shift, Ohio well owner undertakes study after earthquakes and Hundreds seek answers at Youngstown quake meeting.

Earthquakes of this magnitude are rare in Ohio. A September article from The Associated Press reports that the Jan. 31, 1986, quake was only the second in modern times to do damage to Ohio.

Buchanan's own memories of the earthquake include one young son giggling at his moving toys and another hollering about the TV moving.

Features Writer Janet Podolak said she was going to lunch with some girlfriends when the quake happened and saw people running outside their homes. She remembered one story of a woman who was swimming inside at Quail Hollow, who knew immediately that an earthquake was rumbling and was worried about the glass enclosure shattering and hurting her. She was uninjured.

What are your memories of the Jan. 31, 1986, earthquake?

-- Cheryl Sadler | | @nhcheryl

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Anonymous Al in Willoughby said...

I remember my dad being furious that the earthquake caused our newly-built brick home in Willoughby Hills to crack in a spot near the roof. To this day, I occasionally see that crack and am reminded of the earthquake.

January 31, 2012 at 3:45 PM 
Blogger Cheryl Sadler, MLIS said...

Thanks for sharing your memory.

January 31, 2012 at 3:52 PM 

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