The Earth is trembling underneath Lake Erie.
Nine weak, shallow earthquakes have already struck central Lake Erie in the first weeks of 2022, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which, alongside the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), tracks seismic activity in the region.
The quake epicenters are clustered about two miles offshore of Lake County east of Cleveland. They range from 1.3 to 3.0 in magnitude and some are being felt locally on shore. Quake depths range from 2.1 to 7.4 kilometers under the surface.
The most recent quake was a 2.4 magnitude on Feb. 4.
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Ohio DNR seismologist Jeff Fox said quakes are occurring along a fault that produced a larger, 4.0 magnitude quake in June 2019 which was felt as far away as Michigan. Fox speculated the recent cluster may be aftershocks.
“All these earthquakes are happening right in the same spot, so we’re pretty sure they’re on the same fault,” Fox told WKYC in Ohio. “It could be the activity is just migrating along the fault, or it could be remnant aftershock activity from that larger earthquake two years ago.”
Ohio has more seismic monitors in the area than USGS, which lists seven offshore quakes in Lake Erie thus far this year.
Minor seismic activity is fairly common in northeast Ohio, which sits atop ancient fault lines in subsurface Precambrian Age rock. More than 300 earthquakes of 2.0 magnitude or greater with epicenters in the state have occurred since 1776, according to Ohio DNR. The largest was a 5.0 quake that struck Lake County on Jan. 31, 1986.
Onshore, Ohio DNR data shows three small inland quakes of 1.0 to 1.5 already in 2022; epicentered in Trumbull, Ashtabula and Tuscarawas counties. It generally takes a quake of 2.0 or more to be noticed by people.
Geological unrest heating water from below?
Notably, and possibly as a sign of an uptick in geologic activity in the region, a study of Lake Michigan published in March of 2021, using a 30-year data set of deep water measurements, found that deep water temperature there had been rising, and ‘scientists don’t know why’.
The long-term study published in Nature Communications reveals a warming trend in deepwater temperatures that foreshadows profound ecological change on the horizon.
It certainly is curious that, despite an overall worldwide cooling trend, with record breaking cold weather occurring in the US, that Lake Michigan has been found to be warming; one wonders just what’s causing it? Please don’t blame climate change and think about the enhanced geological activity… [mlive, Nature]
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