Throwback Thursday - ‘82 Earthquake

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 4:54 PM EST
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Earthquakes in Aroostook County are a rare occurrence, but not unheard of. In this week’s Throwback Thursday Brian Bouchard shows us a time when an earthquake rocked the county.

On January 9th, 1982 Aroostook County and New Brunswick were rocked by a 5.8 Magnitude Earthquake which was regarded as the worst border earthquake in 126 years at the time and caused some minor property damage. In the following days and weeks, WAGM Reporter Sue Bernard interviewed those who experienced it, and did reports regarding earthquake preparedness and prediction. In this weeks Throwback Thursday, we dial the time machine back 41 years to 1982.

“I was at work and I was just down in the coffee room making coffee when it hit and we thought the furnace was blowing up or something but we all run down to check the furnace one fella run outdoors he thought the building was coming down on him, but I guess it wasn’t anything too serious”

“I thought my furnace had blown up and I was reading and I got up and I couldn’t stand, my legs felt all rubbery and my cups and saucers began to fall off the mantle. So I lost 3 cups and saucers and a plate. The walls seemed to be going in and out like that and I looked at the ceiling and I said “Oh my god, what’s the matter with the place” and I ran out and the fire department was driving in the yard and that scared me more than ever. They called the fire department and they said, “Oh, it’s an earthquake”

“This is very general. The usual sequence of events you have a number of small 4 shocks followed by a fairly large seismic event. And then these usually tend to continue over a long period of time until all of the strain, if you will, has been relieved from the rocks. It’s been 10 days since the major event and the rocks have suddenly become very very quiet. The shortening is very brief and so therefor we have 2 options, either they have died out or friction has increased and the strain is continuing but the things are not moving then we might expect another little mild bang that everyone would feel over the next few weeks.”

Forbes stresses the 50/50 probability is in no way a prediction.

“We’re years away from predicting earthquakes, we know it’s going to happen but we don’t know when, it might be in 5 seconds, 5 minutes or 5 years.”

And Forbes says a relationship between the earthquake centered in New Hampshire 2 days ago and our earthquake can not be determined yet.

“See these little dots all represent seismic activity in the last couple of years, little clusters around northern maine and new Brunswick, a cluster of these things down in new Hampshire and Massachusetts. And then we have a fault system, this is a major, its not one fault but a series of faults that have been compiled onto this map. It’s probably a coincidence that we’ve had earthquakes on both ends of this system in the past few days. If we were to get a series of displacements or a series of small tremors along this line anywhere through the center then we might be able to speak to say well “alright this is more than a coincidence” that somehow these are connected.”

And if there is a connection, data collected will help engineers know what stress factors to expect when building any large structures in the area in the future.

Sue Bernard, NewsLine8