WILLOWICK, Ohio — Mother Nature can bring all sorts of elements to Northeast Ohio, including heavy snow, cold temperatures, and bitter winds. Some residents in Lake County have also been feeling a different kind of natural phenomenon recently: earthquakes.
According to the United States Geological Survey, there have been seven earthquakes recorded off the shore of Lake County since 2022 began. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has recorded nine in Lake County, citing having “more seismic stations in the immediate vicinity of the quakes than the USGS does.”
All of the quakes have been relatively small, in the one or two magnitude range. Still, they make enough of an impact to be felt by some, including Willowick Mayor Rich Regovich.
“I was sitting right here, heard a boom, and I thought something hit the roof or somebody was working on the roof, or somebody hit the building,” he said. “I heard one of these windows kind of rattle.”
Regovich said when he felt the quake, which occurred the week of Jan. 31, he walked out of his office and asked the rest of the staff if they had felt anything. He said he was the only one. However, just days later, his wife felt another quake.
“The most recent one my wife felt at home,” he said. “She thought somebody hit our garage, or something fell on our garage.”
That quake occurred on Feb. 4 and was recorded by USGS and ODNR as a 2.4 magnitude earthquake, about three miles northwest of the Village of Timberlake.
Regovich said when these earthquakes occur, his office as well as their fire and police departments often get calls from residents asking what’s going on, and whether or not there was some sort of an accident or crash that caused the rumbles or thuds they describe experiencing.
“You get that icky feeling in your stomach of going oh, another earthquake,” said Lisa Stefaniak, a resident of the Village of Timberlake for 18 years. “It’s become common here.”
Stefaniak said whenever she feels a quake, she reports it online to USGS.
"People are concerned around here too, it's something new," she said.
You never think an earthquake, you know?"
According to ODNR seismologist Jeff Fox, this activity is normal for this part of Ohio, but it’s the frequency that’s a bit unusual.
“Northeast Ohio is a pretty geologically complex part of the state and part of the Midwest continent from ancient faults and mountain building episodes in the long past,” Fox said. “The ground deep below our feet up in that part of the state is pretty faulted. Then there’s natural background stresses in the Earth’s crust. Eventually overtime that stress is relieved through the releasing of energy in the form of earthquakes.”
Fox said these recent earthquakes have been happening along a fault, and occurring about half a mile to two miles off shore north of the Eastlake and Timberlake areas. This area was also the site of a larger, 4.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred in June of 2019.
Because of the location of these earthquakes, Fox said they believe the recent, smaller impacts could be aftershocks of that larger 2019 event.
“All these earthquakes are happening right in the same spot, so we’re pretty sure they’re on the same fault,” Fox said. “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.”
Fox said it can be hard to predict the timing of these earthquakes, and said there could be a readjustment of the stress field on that fault from the larger 2019 earthquake.
If you believe you are feeling an earthquake, you can report it to USGS here.
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