Earthquake History

The most damaging Indiana earthquake originating within the State, occurred on September 27, 1909, near the Illinois border between Vincennes and Terre Haute. Some chimneys fell, several building walls were cracked, light connections were severed, and pictures were shaken off the walls. It was strong in Indianapolis and Oakland City. It was felt over an area of 30,000 square miles including the southwestern half of Indiana, all of Illinois and parts of Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, and probably in parts of Kansas.

Another damaging earthquake originating in Indiana occurred on April 29, 1899, and rated intensity VI to VII on the Modified Mercalli Scale. It was strongest at Jeffersonville and Shelbyville; at Vincennes, chimneys were thrown down and walls cracked. It was felt over an area of 40,000 square miles.

In 1876, twin shocks fifteen minutes apart were felt over an area of 60,000 square miles. A shock in 1887 centered near Vincennes was felt over 75,000 square miles and an 1891 shock damaged property and frightened people in church at Evansville.

Indiana has also suffered from damage caused by earthquakes originating in neighboring States. The worst occurred on November 9, 1968, and centered near Dale in southern Illinois. The shock, a magnitude 5.3, was felt over 580,000 square miles and 23 States including all of Indiana. Intensity VII was reported from Cynthiana where chimneys were cracked, twisted, and toppled; at Fort Branch where groceries fell from shelves and a loud roaring noise was heard, and at Mount Vernon, New Harmony, Petersburg, Princeton, and Stewartsville, all of which had similar effects. At Poseyville, "Fish jumped out of the rivers, ponds and lakes."

Almost exactly ten years earlier on November 7, 1958, an earthquake originating near Mt. Carmel, Illinois, caused plaster to fall at Fort Branch. Roaring and whistling noises were heard at Central City and the residents of Evansville thought there had been an explosion or plane crash. It was felt over 33,000 square miles of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Kentucky.

On March 2, 1937, a shock centering near Anna, Ohio, threw objects from shelves at Fort Wayne and some plaster fell. Plaster was also cracked at Indianapolis. Six days later, another shock originating at Anna brought pictures crashing down and cracked plaster in Fort Wayne and was strongly felt at Lafayette.

The great New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 must have strongly affected the State, particularly the southwestern part, but there is little information available from these frontier times.

[The above history was abridged from Earthquake Information Bulletin, Volume 4, Number 4, July-August 1972.] 1827 Jul 5 11:30 4.8M Intensity VI
Near New Harmony, Indiana ( 38.0N 87.5W )
The earthquake cracked a brick store at New Harmony, Ind., and greatly alarmed some people. It was described as violent at New Madrid, Mo., and severe at St. Louis. It also alarmed many at Cincinnati, Ohio, and Frankfort, Ky.

1827 Aug 7 04:30 4.8M Intensity V
Southern Illinois ( 38.0N 88.0W )

1827 Aug 7 07:00 4.7M Intensity V
Southern Illinois ( 38.0N 88.0W )

1887 Feb 6 22:15 4.6M Intensity VI
Near Vincennes, Indiana ( 38.7N 87.5W )
This shock was strongest in southwest Indiana and southeast Illinois. Plaster was shaken from walls at Vincennes, Ind., and west of Terre Haute, at Martinsville, Ill.; a cornice reportedly fell from a building at Huntington, Ind. It was felt distinctly at Evansville, Ind., but only slightly in the outskirts of St. Louis, Mo. Also reported felt at Louisville, Ky.

1891 Jul 27 02:28 4.1M Intensity VI
Evansville, Indiana ( 37.9N 87.5W )
A strong local earthquake damaged a wall on a hotel, broke dishes, and overturned furniture at Evansville. The shock also was strong near Evansville at Mount Vernon and Newburgh, Ind., and at Hawesville, Henderson, and Owensboro, Ky.

1921 Mar 14 12:15 4.4M Intensity VI
Near Terre Haute, Indiana ( 39.5N 87.5W )
This earthquake broke windows in many buildings and sent residents rushing into the streets at Terre Haute. Small articles were overturned at Paris, Ill., about 35 km northwest of Terre Haute.

1925 Apr 27 04:05 4.8M Intensity VI
Wabash River valley, near Princeton, Indiana ( 38.2N 87.8W )
Chimneys were downed at Princeton and at Carmi, Ill., 100 km southwest; chimneys were broken at Louisville, Ky. Crowds fled from the theaters at Evansville, Ind. The felt area includes parts of Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio.

[The above summaries were 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 and from Preliminary Determinations of Epicenters Monthly Listing.]


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