Indiana State University Newsroom

Students, staff and community all shook up during Quake Cottage visit

September 24, 2013

As students and staff step off the 25-foot-by-8-foot-by-14-foot simulator, their brains were filled with information and faces filled with shock.

"It was really nice that you can actually experience that and know what an earthquake feels like and how to be prepared," said Taylor O'Connor, freshman majoring in earth and environmental sciences at Indiana State University. "This is an important topic because if something were to happen then we will know what to do in an emergency like where to go and what to do."

The Quake Cottage visited Indiana State in September as part of a program sponsored by the earth and environmental systems department, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. The program encourages education and preparation for an earthquake in Indiana. The inside of the simulator replicates a typical living room with one difference, items are secured to demonstrate preparatory measures to protect lives and prevent damage.

"The information about what you can do in order to protect yourself if something were to happen is vital. People don't know there are easy things they can do like strapping up a bookcase or putting putty on the pictures because most of the time injuries that happen are from stuff falling on them," said Michelle Bennett, OLLI program administrator.

The simulated earthquakes lasted about two minutes with three strengths, starting at a 3.0 then to 5.0 and a 7.0 on the magnitude scale, while the person in charge explained what would be happening if the earthquakes were real: books and pictures on the walls would be falling, window glass might be shattering. The importance of having an emergency kit was also emphasized.

"You're going to have to be self-sufficient for three to four days after such an event. You are not going to get immediate relief. The emergency response systems are overwhelmed for the first several days. You are going to be relying on state and federal relief and that is going to take several days to mobilize," said Walter Gray, educational outreach coordinator for the Indiana Geological Survey.

Gray suggested people have an emergency kit to survive outdoors for three to four days. Some of the items that the emergency kit should include first aid, food, water, lighting and tools.

In the Midwest earthquakes are common, more so than some residents think. Gray said since 1817 there have been earthquakes that residents can feel about every four and half years. However, in the past 12,000 years, the Midwest has experienced earthquakes up to magnitudes of seven on the Richter scale.

"So the hazard's there. We just haven't had one recently that has been very damaging and that has caused a lot of complacency of the people here in Indiana and the Wabash Valley," said Gray.

The Wabash Valley shook from a 5.2 earthquake with an epicenter in Mt. Carmel, Ill in 2008.

"Earthquakes are definitely in our future. Here on this campus and all around the Midwest we are just not really prepared for a significant earthquake. This is one way in which we can begin to educate people about earthquakes, how they happen, why they happen but also the consequences and the real power that is generated by an earthquake," said Tony Rathburn, professor of geology. "This is experiential learning in its best form in the sense it is preparing you for the future. It is preparing you safety wise; it's an exercise that can influence your health and safety and of those if your family."

Writer: Beth Pickerill, media relations assistant, Office of Communications & Marketing,