Ron Schott over at Geology Home Companion is hosting the 41st round of the Accretionary Wedge, where he wants participants to describe the most memorable geologic event that one has experienced. What follows is my contribution:
For my grade 10 Social Studies class, one of the requirements thereof was to write a paper about some culture. I chose to write about the Maori people of New Zealand. One class period was reserved to work on the report in the computer lab while the teacher roamed around, in case students needed help. I, on the computer just as you walk inside the lab and a hare to the right, asked the teacher to come over for help with ideas as I was experiencing writer's block. We had a great discussion and bounced ideas off each other for several minutes, when it happened.
What happened, exactly? The setting was a high school in Beaverton, OR (a southwestern suburb of Portland) on the afternoon of February 28th, 2001. If the date and location sound sort of familiar, I am referring to the M6.8 Nisqually Earthquake that struck the Pacific Northwest. The hypocentre of the earthquake according to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network's data page, was situated 52 km at depth with the associated epicentre ~18 km NE of Olympia.
This earthquake was my first earthquake I have felt in my life at that point and so for the first few seconds, I wasn't sure what was going on. The ground started rolling like broad waves and confusion amongst my fellow students and the faculty present in the computer lab was quite evident. The earthquake itself lasted, I venture, 15-30 seconds and fits most closely to a III or IV on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale where I was located at the time.
A few second's after the shaking stopped, the Principal of the school along with the campus safety person stepped foot in the computer lab and announced "May I have your attention? For your information, yes we did experience an earthquake. Please duck and cover," or something to that effect. What occurred soon after the duck-and-cover exercise I cannot recall, but I do believe we were let out of school early and in my case went home and watched the news reports on the damage to the Puget Sound area while talking to my parental units about our collective experiences. An event I will never forget.
~Cole G. Kingsbury