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A few facts,from the City of Rochester's Dept. of Environmental Services, about the Quake that Rochester felt at 1:41pm this afternoon (June 23, 2010).
The magnitude was 5.5 and it was centered just north of Ottawa, Canada along the Ontario-Quebec Border. To be exact, it was 33 miles NNE from Ottawa, Canada.
Western Quebec has experienced small earthquakes and suffered damage from larger ones for well over three centuries. The two largest damaging earthquakes occurred in 1935 (magnitude 6.1) at the northwestern end of the seismic zone, and in 1732 (magnitude 6.2) 450 km (280 mi) away at the southeastern end of the zone where it caused significant damage in Montreal. Earthquakes cause damage in the zone about once a decade. Smaller earthquakes are felt three or four times a year.
Earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains, although less frequent than in the west, are typically felt over a much broader region. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast. A magnitude 4.0 eastern earthquake typically can be felt at many places as far as 100 km (60 mi) from where it occurred, and it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern earthquake usually can be felt as far as 500 km (300 mi) from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage as far away as 40 km (25 mi).
The Rochester area was well out range for physical damage however human beings are more receptive to vibration, thus the feeling of movement. Human beings have a greater sensitivity to ground movement than physical structures thus explaining the response to small quakes. There are over 1000 earthquakes around the world each day that average under 2.0. At this level ground movement cannot be detected by humans beings. It is only when the energy begins to rise above this threshold that slight ground movement can be detected.
As a frame of reference, there are roughly 500,000 detectable earthquakes each year. Only 100,000 of these quakes are strong enough to be felt by humans. In southern California alone, over 10,000 earthquakes occur each year. Out of these worldwide occurrences, roughly 100 cause severe damage.
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