A magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck Oklahoma on November 05, 2011 at 10:53:10 p.m. This is the largest earthquake ever recorded in Oklahoma and it occurred outside of the area of previous seismic concentration. Damage is still being assessed as the sun rises but reports are already coming in of buckled highways and damage to houses. One person suffered minor injuries when he tripped running out of the house.
“Like South Carolina, Oklahoma is not on an active plate boundary where the plates grind past each other and generate earthquakes on a regular basis,” says Erin Beutel with the Depatment of Geology and Environmental Geosciences at the College of Charleston. ” Instead, both South Carolina and Oklahoma are in the middle of the North American plate and have much more infrequent, and therefore harder to predict, earthquakes. Unlike South Carolina, Oklahoma has not previously had a major earthquake, instead they have had moderate to small earthquakes, including a foreshock earlier in the day.”
According to the USGS, this earthquake is located on the edge of the area of low risk in Oklahoma. Beutel says this is important for South Carolina because it illustrates that while the highest risk for earthquakes is in the Charleston/Summerville area, damaging earthquakes can occur throughout the state.
This week is Earthquake Week in South Carolina, as declared by the Governor, and is a time for everyone to think about what they would do during an earthquake. As part of this effort the schools around the state will be holding earthquake drills on November 8. These drills will be held statewide, while some areas have less earthquake activity than others, this earthquake in Oklahoma illustrates just how important these drills are, as damaging intraplate earthquakes can occur in areas that were previously thought to be relatively safe. During the drills students will be asked to Drop, Cover and Hold—Drop under a sturdy desk or table, Cover their heads, and hold onto the object as things have a tendency to move during earthquakes. This is what everyone should do during an earthquake, most of injuries during an earthquake occur as people run outside and the façade, chimney, porches etc on the exterior of the house fail and hurt them as they run out of the house or place of business.
Officials say that everyone should also have an earthquake plan and earthquake kit ready in case of an earthquake. In the event of a major earthquake the very earliest that outside help will likely arrive is 72 hours, but it may be up to a week. People will need to be prepared to be on their own for that time, thus earthquake kits should contain essentially the same materials as hurricane kits; food, water, medicine, first aid, clothes, and other basic essentials.
For more information on Earthquake Week, earthquake risk in South Carolina and answers to all your earthquake questions the press is invited to contact the South Carolina Earthquake Education and Preparedness program at the College of Charleston.