We don't normally associate the U.P. with large scale earthquakes, but last week's unconventional quake along the East Coast got our Facebook fans wondering: could that happen here? Should we expect some shaking here in the U.P. due to the Keweenaw Fault?
Experts say everyone should always be prepared for an earthquake since they are unpredictable. Scientists say we can and do experience them regularly in the U.P., but most of them are too small to even feel.
But according to scientists, U.P. earthquakes have nothing to do with the Keweenaw Fault and probably never will.
You can't see it through most of the Copper Country, but experts say if it became active, you would feel it. The Keweenaw Fault last caused a quake a billion years ago when there was a fracture in a volume of rock where the Earth was displaced. It hasn't been active since.
Running along the edge of the Trap Rock Valley, some call the fault the "spine of the Keweenaw Peninsula." It runs down the east end of Michigan Tech TMs campus, through their ice rink and down the Portage Canal.
But experts say you probably won't feel the bleachers shake at your next Huskies game; that's not very likely.
It hasn't had much activity in the recent past, and that's basically how we evaluate these things, said Tech Professor of Petrology, Bill Rose. So we don't think it's going to be active based on statistics of occurrence; that doesn't mean the probability is zero.
Also for the fault to become active, it would need a cause. Rose says that cause--a continental collision called the Grenville Front in Ohio--is now obsolete.
The cause of that disturbance is gone; there's no longer a continental collision down around Toledo, Rose said.
Still, some claim they felt the fault move again in 1906. However, experts say what people felt then was probably what's called a rock burst.
There's a lot of mined out areas where rock has been removed from underground, so there's big holes underground...sometimes these crash down, Rose explained. When they fall, they shake us just like an earthquake does.
There is still a very small probability that the fault could become active again, but scientists say, don't hold your breath.