February 19, 2015

Plainfield’s Earthquake Swarms Bring Scientists to Connecticut

According to a New York Times article, scientists from the Weston Observatory at Boston College visited Plainfield last month after 11 small earthquakes were measured in and around the town. The earthquake swarms in Plainfield have been small, with the strongest measuring only 3.3 magnitude. Many questions cannot be answered because of the infrequency of earthquakes in the area and lack of data about them.

The article contrasts the earthquake swarms in Connecticut to California’s earthquakes, which occur from the friction between tectonic plates and are characterized by a big event followed by smaller aftershocks. Earthquake swarms, however, are several small events that build up to a large event and then taper off. The small quakes have caused pictures on the walls to rattle and fall but no major damage. Town residents have raised concerns and questions, which scientists have attempted to answer.

A geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey explained that the earthquakes are too small to produce a surface rupture, so they cannot determine the epicenter of the quakes or what is causing the rumblings. Scientists from the Weston Observatory placed four temporary seismometers in private homes in the area to more accurately pinpoint the locations and details of each temblor. They have kept the sites of the temporary seismometers a secret because the equipment is costly and may attract curious people. For more information about the earthquake swarms and seismometers, read the New York Times article.