Historic Earthquakes

Southern Illinois
1968 11 09 17:01:40.5 UTC
Magnitude 5.4
Intensity VII

Largest Earthquake in Illinois

This was the strongest felt earthquake in southern Illinois since the 1895 Missouri event. Property damage in the area consisted mainly of fallen bricks from chimneys, broken windows, toppled television aerials, and cracked or fallen plaster. In the epicentral area, near Dale, Hamilton County, MM intensity VII was characterized by downed chimneys, cracked foundations, overturned tombstones, and scattered instances of collapsed parapets.

Most buildings that sustained damage to chimneys were 30 to 50 years old. A large two-story brick house near Dale, Illinois, sustained several thousand dollars damage. About 10 kilometers west of Dale, near Tuckers Corners, a concrete and brick cistern collapsed. A large amount of masonry damage occurred at the City Building at Henderson, Kentucky, 80 kilometers east-southeast of the epicenter. Moderate damage to chimneys and walls occurred in several towns in south-central Illinois, southwest Indiana, and northwest Kentucky. Felt over all or parts of 23 States: from southeast Minnesota to central Alabama and Georgia and from western North Carolina to central Kansas. People in multistory buildings in Boston, Massachusetts and southern Ontario, Canada, felt the earthquake.

City Building in Henderson, Kentucky, damaged by the November 9, 1968, earthquake. City Building in Henderson, Kentucky, damaged by the November 9, 1968, earthquake.
(Photograph by the Gleaner Journal.)


Abridged from Seismicity of the United States, 1568-1989 (Revised), by Carl W. Stover and Jerry L. Coffman, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1527, United States Government Printing Office, Washington: 1993.