Michigan's Upper Peninsula Has a Long History of Earthquakes

Author Lisa A. Shiel has researched the hidden history of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and reveals surprising facts about earthquakes. The recent quake that opened a crevice in Menominee County is just one of many temblors that have shaken the region.
By: Lisa A. Shiel
 
 
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Earthquake
Michigan
Upper Peninsula
Geology
History
Stephenson
Menominee Country

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Books
Environment

Location:
Marquette - Michigan - US

Oct. 18, 2010 - PRLog -- Lake Linden, MI— On October 4, 2010, residents of Stephenson in Michigan's Menominee County heard a loud boom and felt their houses tremble. The next day, a large crevice was discovered. A week later, geologist Wayne Pennington of Michigan Technological University in Houghton announced the results of his examination of the evidence. An earthquake had caused the shaking and the crevice. As a local author has discovered, however, earthquakes in the UP are nothing new. In the years 1902 to 1909 alone, more than 20 earthquakes rattled the UP. Lisa A. Shiel documents the UP's shaky history in her new book Forgotten Tales of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Based chiefly on historical newspaper accounts, the book relates little-known stories from the 1800s through the 1920s, with an entire chapter devoted to earthquakes. In 1905 a swarm of quakes crisscrossed the UP. A temblor struck Menominee County on March 13 of that year. Today, scientists estimate the strength of that quake to have been approximately 3.8 on the Richter scale. Newspaper stories blamed the shaking on "air blasts" inside mines. "The problem with that idea," Shiel says, "is that nobody had a clue what air blasts were. So this was hardly a solution to the mystery."

The worst quake hit the Keweenaw Peninsula on July 26, 1905. A tremendous boom heard as far away as Marquette heralded the start of the quake. The shaking lasted for about ten seconds and rattled everything in the vicinity of the towns of Calumet, Lake Linden, and Hancock. A house was knocked an inch off its foundation, windows were shattered, and chimneys tumbled to the ground. Miners as far down as the 49th level of the Quincy Mine felt the tremors. The July quake was the last straw for some residents of the Keweenaw, who fled the region.

"After three years of earthquakes," Shiel says, "people were terrified. They had no idea what was happening."

At the time, geologists thought the quakes were natural, though perhaps exacerbated by the presence of deep mines. Fred W. McNair, president of the Michigan College of Mines (now Michigan Technological University), told Houghton's Daily Mining Gazette the quakes stemmed from "an uplift of the land." In 1911, in a report issued for the Michigan Geological and Biological Survey, noted geologist William Herbert Hobbs agreed with McNair's opinion. Today, however, the earthquakes of the early 20th century are generally dismissed as mine collapses.

"Who should we believe?" Shiel asks. "It's impossible to look back now and say for certain what happened then. The mystery is part of the fun of these old stories."

Forgotten Tales of Michigan's Upper Peninsula is Shiel's sixth book. A resident of Michigan’s UP, Shiel researches and writes about everything strange, from Bigfoot and UFOs to alternative history.

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About Lisa A. Shiel: Author of nonfiction books covering alternative science viewpoints, the paranormal, and weird and offbeat stories -- Forgotten Tales of Michigan's Upper Peninsual, Strange Michigan, The Evolution Conspiracy, Vol. 1, and Backyard Bigfoot. Also the author of the Human Origins Series of science fiction novels, including The Hunt for Bigfoot and Lord of the Dead. For more information, visit her website at http://backyardphenomena.wordpress.com/
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