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Earthquake in Illinois 2/10/10

Updated on March 12, 2010

Earthquake Map February 10, 2010

Map courtesy of USGS
Map courtesy of USGS

Earthquake Rocks Northern Illinois

In the early morning hours of February 10th, 2010, just before 4 a.m. CT, an earthquake hit Northern Illinois. The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) originally reported the magnitude at 4.3, but later downgraded the quake to a 3.8 magnitude. The epicenter was 40-50 miles from Chicago between the towns of Virgil and Sycamore, Illinois and the depth 6-7 miles underground, this would be in the volcanic layers below Chicago.

Reports of the tremor came not only from Illinois residents, but from surrounding states as well.

The quakes center in Kane County, was far from any known fault line. A research project is set to begin in which 400 seismometers will be planted across the Midwest to measure seismic activity. The information collected will help scientists create images of hidden fault lines. Those images could help explain why the earth shook in an area that rarely experiences earthquakes.

sources: USGS, ISGS

Illinois being my home state, where tornadoes are the likely threat, I now reside in California (a.k.a. Earthquake Central), where earthquakes are a common occurrence, most we don't feel, many we have felt a great deal!

However, in an area where they are not commonplace, like Illinois, an earthquake is certainly a jolt to the psyche for those residents.

History has shown that the Mississippi River valley, including of course, Illinois, has had a number of earthquakes. Some quite large, some with disastrous results. The earliest report of an Illinois earthquake was in 1795.

April 12, 1883 an earthquake occurred waking everyone in Cairo. An old frame house was shaken down, injuring the inhabitants. The only record of an earthquake related injury in Illinois.

Among the largest earthquakes occurring in Illinois was on May 26, 1909 in Will County with a magnitude of 5.1 which caused damage and fires and just two months later on July 18th another quake hit and was felt over 40,000 square miles in surrounding states.

Kendall County in 1912, with a magnitude of 4.7.

Kane County in 1944 with a magnitude 2.7 and in 1947 a 3.1.

A magnitude 5, hit the small town of Tamms on August 14, 1965 and six aftershocks were felt.

November 9, 1968, a magnitude 5.3 felt over 580,000 square miles and 23 states as far away as Ontario and Boston.

Of course, there are the monstrous quakes of 1811-1812 along the New Madrid fault.

Be Prepared for an Earthquake

California children practice earthquake drills during each school year, we purchase Earthquake kits and have disaster plans in place.

Check for hazards in your home. In California many of these items are requirements. Fasten shelves and heavy, tall furniture securely to the wall. Place breakable items such as glass bottles, china on lower shelves and install cabinet latches. Secure your water heater with by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor. Brace overhead light fixtures. Repair defective wiring and leaking gas connections, which are a potential fire hazard. Store pesticides and flammables on the bottom shelves of low cabinets with latches. Avoid hanging large pictures or mirrors over furniture where people sit or sleep.

Identify safe places indoors and outdoors. (see next section below)

Educate yourself and family members. Teach children how and when to dial 9-1-1 and which radio station to tune into for emergency information. Teach all children how and when to shut off gas, electricity and water. Have a drill in place at home and practice with all family members.

Have disaster supplies on hand, or what we Californians call an Earthquake kit. Flashlights with extra batteries. Portable, battery operated hand radio with extra batteries. First aid kit and manual. Emergency food and water. Nonelectric can opener. Cash and credit cards. Sturdy shoes.

Develop an emergency communication plan. Since adults and children may be separated during an earthquake; work and school, develop a plan for reuniting after an earthquake. California schools have Earthquake forms we sign as to what we want done with our children in the event of a quake, I always opt for them to remain at school until I can pick them up.

Have an out of state contact, if possible. It is often easier to call long distance after a disaster. Make sure all family members know the name, address and phone number of the contact. It is also a good idea to keep this information with your Earthquake kit.

A great example of this was during the Northridge, CA Earthquake in 1994, land lines were down and cell lines jammed with calls, I was able to get through to a family member in Illinois, to let them know we were all together and well.

sources: FEMA, American Red Cross

Northridge, CA 1994 magnitude 6.7 FEMA News Photo
Northridge, CA 1994 magnitude 6.7 FEMA News Photo
Northridge, CA 1994 magnitude 6.7 FEMA News Photo
Northridge, CA 1994 magnitude 6.7 FEMA News Photo
Northridge, CA 1994 FEMA News Photo
Northridge, CA 1994 FEMA News Photo

What to do during an Earthquake.

•Minimize your movement. Take only a few steps to shelter if possible.

•If indoors, the rule of thumb is DROP and COVER. Get under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture and hold on until the earthquake is over. If you can't, then crouch down in an inside corner, covering your head with your arms. Stand under an interior loadbearing doorway and brace yourself against frame.

Stay away from windows, glass, outside doors and walls. Stay away from any objects that can fall from walls or ceiling.

If you are in bed, stay there, covering your head with a pillow. Unless there are objects above your bed that can fall on top of you.

Stay inside until shaking stops.

You may lose electricity, sprinkler systems or fire alarms may go on, gas lines and water lines may break as well.

Do Not use elevators.

If outdoors, stay there but stay away from buildings, utility wires, streetlights or lamps.

According to several government agencies, most earthquake related deaths occur from falling debris, flying glass, and collapsing walls.

If trapped under debris, do not light a match, do not move about or kick up dust, cover your mouth with clothing or handkerchief to avoid breathing in dust. Tap on a pipe or wal so rescuers can find you, Shout only as a last resort to avoid inhaling harmful amounts of dust.

If you are driving during an earthquake stop as quickly as is safely possible. Avoid being near or under buildings, trees, utility wires, bridges and overpasses.

Once the earthquake subsides proceed with caution, avoid roads, bridges, underpasses or overpasses that might have been damaged. If utility wires have fallen across your vehicle stay inside and call 9-1-1 and wait for emergency services.

sources: FEMA, USGS, American Red Cross 

What to do after an Earthquake

Expect Aftershocks. They are usually less violent than the main quake but can be significant enough to cause additional damage.

Listen to battery operated radio or television for latest emergency information.

Use telephone only for emergency calls.

Open cabinets with caution. Be aware of objects that can fall off shelves.

Stay away from damaged areas.

Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.

Inspect entire length of chimney for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.

Inspect Utilities.

Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the main valve outside and call utility company from a neighbor's house. If you turn off the gas, it must be turned back on by a utility company.

Look for electrical damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, smell hot insulation turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker.

Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged avoid using toilets, call a plumber. If you suspect water lines are damaged, call the water company and avoid using tap water. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.

This is also when your earthquake kit, including bottled water, comes in handy.

Sources: FEMA, American Red Cross


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    • Alexander Pease profile image

      Alexander Pease 

      7 years ago from Maine

      I hadn't heard of that earthquake. Maybe it didn't cause enough damage to get national news. I am interested to see if there are any fault lines near Illinios.


    • lilmisstrouble profile image


      7 years ago from Streatorville

      I live in Illinois, and I remember hearing about this last year... I slept right through it though. Lol! Sycamore is quite a ways from where I'm at. But, I will never forget the little *quake* that happened in 2004. Now that one, I heard! Thought a car had crashed into my apartment building. One in the morning too.. You can imagine how creeped out I was, especially since Illinois earthquakes are rare, and an earthquake was the last thing I had expected to shake up my apartment like that! Haha

      Here's more on that quake:

    • Missi Darnell profile imageAUTHOR

      Missi Darnell 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      JannyC thank you for your comment. Yes former and still at heart. Never know I may leave California again one day and go back "home".

    • JannyC profile image


      8 years ago

      Former Illinoisian cool. Yes that was big new here. I just thought it was a snow plow but I did wake up to the rumbling. Or maybe it was a snow plow not sure was 4am.

    • Missi Darnell profile imageAUTHOR

      Missi Darnell 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      thank you pddm67. Yes you just never know. The New Madrid fault running really along the mississippi river is huge. Hopefully you don't get them in NY but just in case glad you found this hub useful.

    • pddm67 profile image


      8 years ago from Queens, New York

      Wow - very interesting. I had no idea Illinois had so many earthquakes over the years. Living in NY, I have never experienced an earthquake - not that I'm complaining. With so many having happened in recent months (Haiti, Chile, Taiwan and Turkey) your advice comes at a great time. Hey ya never know when one may happen in NY - always good to know what to do just in case. Rock on!

    • Missi Darnell profile imageAUTHOR

      Missi Darnell 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you freta, I'm glad you found it informative and encouraged you to prepare. Thank you for your comment.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      What a very informative hub. Living in So. Cal as you do, we hear these things all the time, but do we listen? Not really, for some reason, we tend to think we won't be affected. But after reading this hub I'm going to put more emphases on preparation. And Illinois, who knew. Very good information, and helpful instructions.

    • Missi Darnell profile imageAUTHOR

      Missi Darnell 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you shazwellyn. No earthquakes in the UK? I'm glad you liked my hub.

    • shazwellyn profile image


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      What a useful hub. Im from the UK and we dont experience much in terms of earthquakes - so this is a useful educational piece for me. Well done and keep up the hard work! xx


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