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The largest earthquakes in Indiana history

Posted at 2:17 PM, Apr 18, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana is typically safe from  earthquake activity like the devastation in Ecuador or the major damage in Japan, but the state has seen its share of events that caused damage along the New Madrid fault line.

Here's a look at the most significant earthquakes in recorded Indiana history, according to the U.S. Geological Survey:

September 27, 1909: Magnitude 5.1 This was the most damaging earthquake that ever originated within the state. Its epicenter was on the Illinois border between Vincennes and Terre Haute. Some chimneys fell, light connections severed and some building walls were cracked. It was felt over an area of 30,000 square miles including a strong presence in Indianapolis. It was felt from Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas and into parts of Kansas.

November 9, 1968: Magnitude 5.4 The epicenter was near Dale in southern Illinois, but the shock was felt over 580,000 square miles in 23 states, including all of Indiana. Chimneys were cracked, twisted and toppled from Cynthiana to Fort Branch, where groceries were ripped from the shelves and a loud roaring noise was heard. The USGS provided a quote from a resident in Poseyville, who said "Fish jumped out of the rivers, ponds and lakes."

April 29, 1899: Intensity VI to VII on Modified Mercalli Scale The quake was strongest at Jefersonville and Shelbyville. Chimneys were thrown down and walls cracked in Vincennes. It was felt over an area of 40,000 square miles.

The great New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and 1812: Magnitude 7.5 (Dec. 16, 1811 and Feb. 7, 1812) and 7.3 (Jan. 23, 1812) The USGS says these must have strongly affected the state despite originating in Arkansas and Missouri, but there is little information available from these frontier times.

July 5, 1827 5: Intensity VI Near New Harmony, Indiana, the earthquake cracked a brick store, and greatly alarmed some people. It was described as violent at New Madrid, Mo., and severe at St. Louis. It also alarmed many at Cincinnati, and Frankfort, Ky.

February 6, 1887: Intensity VI With an epicenter near Vincennes, Indiana, this shock was strongest in southwest Indiana and southeast Illinois. Plaster was shaken from walls at Vincennes., and at Martinsville, Ill. A cornice reportedly fell from a building at Huntington, Ind. It was felt distinctly at Evansville, but only slightly in the outskirts of St. Louis. It was also reported felt at Louisville, Ky.

July 27, 1891 Jul 27: Intensity VI A strong local earthquake at Evansville damaged a wall on a hotel, broke dishes, and overturned furniture.

March 14, 1921: Intensity VI This earthquake broke windows in many buildings and sent residents rushing into the streets of Terre Haute. 

April 27, 1925: Intensity VI Wabash River valley, near Princeton, Indiana ( 38.2N 87.8W ) Chimneys were downed at Princeton, Ind. and the Wabash River valley; chimneys were broken at Louisville, Ky. and crowds fled from the theaters at Evansville. The felt area includes parts of Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio.


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