Friday, May 13, 2005

The Earth Moved!

After 3 years of living in a volcanic, seismically active area, I've finally managed to feel an earthquake!

Around midnight, I was sitting in the remote control room with three Japanese observers. The telescope was cheerily doing telescope things, including some rather precise guiding indicated by a crosshair in a window on my screen.

Several minutes past midnight, the remote control room shook, and the crosshair on my screen jumped all over, indicating that the telescope (27 miles away, and 2.5 miles higher than us) was doing the same. A call to another observatory on the summit confirmed that folks up there had felt it too. A friend I was chatting with reported that another friend of hers who lives near me had actually been woken up by it, and within an hour or so, a colleague had emailed me from London (he's on the road, as usual) to ask whether I'd felt it.

According to the nice folks at the USGS, 'twas a 5.1 magnitude quake off the southeast side of the island, 55 miles or so from here. I've failed to notice quakes before, so it was pretty interesting to be in a room where things are ordinarily very still - it made this one much more obvious.

This fleshes out my selection of natural hazards a little bit. Along with the dangers of volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, altitude sickness and venomous sea urchins, I can now enjoy earthquakes. :)

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