The Biggest Earthquake In Illinois History Once Shut Down the State

On November 9, 1968, a very strong earthquake happened in Illinois and some nearby states at 11:02 a.m. local time. The earthquake in Illinois had a magnitude of 5.3 on the Richter scale. It was the biggest one ever recorded in Illinois and one of the strongest in the Midwest region. The epicenter was found close to the town of Hamilton in southeastern Illinois. It is about 120 miles to the east of St. Louis, Missouri.

The earthquake was felt in places as far as Canada, Alabama, and Georgia. It caused a lot of damage and problems for buildings, roads, bridges, power lines, and communication systems. The earthquake also caused many smaller earthquakes, known as aftershocks, which were felt for several weeks after the main earthquake.

The reasons and impacts of the earthquake

The 1968 Hamilton County earthquake happened because the Wabash Valley Fault System, which is a group of faults that stretches from southern Illinois to southwestern Indiana, moved. The fault system is a part of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which is known for causing some of the most destructive earthquakes in U.S. history. For example, the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes were so powerful that they temporarily changed the direction of the Mississippi River. The Wabash Valley Fault System is currently active and has the potential to cause significant earthquakes in the future.

The earthquake that occurred in 1968 resulted in approximately $10 million worth of damage. This amount is equivalent to about $75 million in 2020. The majority of the damage occurred in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. The damage mostly occurred in the rural areas close to the center of the earthquake. These areas had many buildings that were not built well and were not designed to withstand the shaking from earthquakes. Buildings such as schools, churches, barns, silos, and water towers were among the structures that were greatly damaged.

The earthquake also caused damage to some important historical sites, like the Old State Capitol in Vandalia, Illinois, and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois. The earthquake also caused problems for several coal mines, oil wells, and nuclear power plants in the area. Thankfully, no one died or got seriously hurt, but a lot of people felt scared, worried, and stressed because of the sudden and strong shaking.

The Significance and Teachings of the Earthquake

The 1968 Hamilton County earthquake was a big event that made people in Illinois and the Midwest realize that earthquakes can happen in places that were thought to be safe and stable. The earthquake caused the state and federal governments to do a lot of research and surveys on the seismic activity and risk in the area. They also made new rules and standards for building things that can withstand earthquakes.

The earthquake also made people more aware of earthquakes and helped them prepare for them. It also motivated the creation of emergency plans and systems to respond to earthquakes. The earthquake also encouraged scientific research and advancements in the areas of seismology, geology, engineering, and disaster management.

Also Read: 5 Big Reasons Not to Move to West Virginia in 2024

The earthquake that occurred in 1968 is the biggest and most damaging earthquake that has ever happened in Illinois. However, there is a possibility that there could be more earthquakes in the future. The U.S. Geological Survey says that there is a 25 to 40 percent chance of a magnitude 6.0 or stronger earthquake happening in the New Madrid Seismic Zone in the next 50 years. There is also a 7 to 10 percent chance of a magnitude 7.0 or stronger earthquake.

A strong earthquake in the Midwest could cause a lot of damage and problems in the heavily populated and economically important areas like Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, and Nashville. It is important for the people, businesses, and authorities in Illinois and nearby states to know about the earthquake danger and take steps to lower the risk and make their communities stronger.

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