These Little Earthquakes

Geo Survey Marker on Champlain SummitLast night I was getting ready for bed when I heard a loud boom and then the whole house shook.  My first thought was that there had been an explosion out on the street so I rushed to look out the front door.  There was nothing but snow falling quietly in the dark outside.  My next thought was that a tree had fallen on my house from behind, but no, the backyard was quiet as well.  I didn’t find out until this morning that it was a 3.0 earthquake and we were basically in the epicenter.

 Now, a 3.0 earthquake is nothing in the scheme of things, and indeed there were no damages.  But this is Morris County NJ and a significant earthquake here is sort of like a snowfall in Florida.  It does happen but it’s not common and people tend to make a big deal about it.  I personally have never experienced it before.

I’ve been keeping an eye on earthquake activity in the world, especially since my trip to Bar Harbor this past September when I was surprised to learn that there had been an earthquake there in 2006.  We have taken several vacations in Bar Harbor during the Autumnal Equinox.  On such a trip in 2004, at the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, I had what I believe was a spontaneous heart chakra opening.  Our trip this Equinox was our first time back since then.  This time we found the East Face Champlain trail closed and a notice saying it was damaged in an earthquake in 2006.

Significant earthquakes in Maine are about like earthquakes in New Jersey.  They do happen but they’re not common.

As I wrote in Right Place Revisited, the land at Acadia National Park felt different to me this September, even before I knew about the earthquake.  The energy was still there, but something seemed off and metaphors for upheaval abounded.  I did a little googling upon my return and learned that it wasn’t just one earthquake but a series of earthquakes that shook the park in 2006.  The first occurred on the Autumnal Equinox.  If we had taken a vacation that year, chances are we would have been there for it.

All of the quakes were minor.  The first was 3.4 and over the next 11 days there were some aftershocks, a 2.5 and a 3.9 (summarized by USGS here).  There was a pause and then one more on December 20th.  Apparently, the damages occurred in the 3.9 quake.  (A NPS slideshow showing some damages to the trails and Park Loop Road can be found here.)

Anyway, Acadia was as beautiful as ever this September, and we had a great time.  Still I came back with a nagging feeling.  It was like the 2004 experience had been the grand banquet at the Grail Castle, and this fall was waking up the morning after and finding the guests gone and the Castle empty.  I felt like Parzival — had I failed to ask the question?

Vague ideas about this have been itching at the back of my mind.  Last night’s earthquake, centered practically on my front lawn, prodded me into writing about it.  To what end, I don’t know, but somehow these events seem meaningful to me.  And as Acadia’s earthquakes opened on the Autumnal Equinox, last night’s earthquake here at home coincided with Imbolc.  This, too, seems meaningful and appropriate.  Something is ‘in the belly.’  

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