Ok, so this is not great timing.

As I write this (updated 7 April), there have been 39 earthquakes in central New Jersey beginning with a real glass-shaker of 4.8 Magnitude Friday morning (5-April 2024) at 10:23. I, unfortunately, did not feel it but several close relations did because they were closer. Good for them. It’s always a cool bucket list item to feel a substantial but not dangerous earthquake to remind you of how small and unsubstantial people are.

Earthquakes three days before the eclipse are not helpful for people trying to be rational

If you have been following along, the quakes are just 3 days ahead of the eclipse. The 2024 eclipse will not pass over this epicentral area of New Jersey, but the correlation in time has sent the nervous and Biblically-minded people into fits. The timing makes this very hard to explain that there is no correlation between the two interesting events. Seriously, no matter what I say, certain people will not believe me. Take one very awful person, MTG:

Earthquakes are not predictable but we know exactly when and where the eclipse will happen. Dumbasses like MTG ignore or outright reject science to their, literal, peril.

I mean, TAKE HER, please, get her the hell out of here. Sadly, she is not the only one promoting the idea that End Times are upon us. The heat from religious fearmongering about the eclipse was just turned up. I have to go back and update my last post on Eclipse Anxiety because I found more about it being the Rapture, End of the World, with human sacrifices, etc. Check it out if you haven’t already, just to feel prepared for potential chaos on Monday.

The need to share the experience with each other

The eclipse is one of those events that can, actually, bring people together in a collective experience. Today’s earthquake(s) did the same. People wanted to talk to others and share what they felt. They turned to social media to do that, which is really cool.

What wasn’t great were the very many “suddenly seismologists” who appeared to opine about plate tectonics, the Ramapo fault, and the logarithmic magnitude scale. It did not help that the news media appeared to grab their meteorologist to deal with the science of earthquake reporting. The amount of misinformation may exceed the factual information. The degree and quantity of insane claims will grow, I’m sure. If you want to see some unhinged ideas, they are on TikTok and Reddit.

Just like with all the Google University bridge engineers who emerged on the internet 10 days ago, people want to contribute to the conversation by sounding sciencey. They want attention. Many of the commenters who felt the quake were very scared and overreacted because they don’t know anything about earth sciences. This is not unexpected, but social media feeds full of bogus airbags spouting nonsense makes all this much worse. Scientific explanations can help us understand a scary thing and alleviate some of the concerns. But the catch is that people have to be able to hear qualified and helpful voices and to trust them. The “qualified” and “helpful” voices are being drowned out, and the “trust” has been eroding for decades.

It’s disturbing to be faced with the barrage of information without having a trusted source about science and nature. Where is Carl Sagan when you need him! Note that some media outlets called the 21st century version of Dr. Sagan – Bill Nye. That’s OK, I know he checks his sources before speaking.

In a fortunate bit of timing (maybe), the BBC posted an article about how and why earthquakes are occurring outside of plate boundaries, in unexpected places. This was published 3 days ago:

Something very weird is happening to the planet’s earthquakes

Earth-shattering seismic events can occur away from the fault lines between tectonic plates. And there’s no easy way to predict when or where they’ll hit.

The article describes the problem of intraplate quakes, like the one that occurred in New Jersey. The faults can be hidden or quiet for so long that the population is unprepared. Exactly what happened today. Usually, intraplate faults can’t store a huge amount of energy so when they rupture, it isn’t big. But it can get up to magnitude 7, which is definitely destructive. If you are feeling nervous about earthquakes, I suggest you not read that article because it might make things worse. Clearly, these natural events are adding to the severe national anxiety we are experiencing every day for the past decade.

I told my cousin in New Jersey that aftershocks are likely and they did happen. It may not be just the seismic ones that are felt. People are edgy, the daily news is unsettling. When the ground actually shakes and your congressperson is insisting that the sky is falling, we are rudely reminded how very mired we are in Strange Times.

This headline nailed it. People will make the correlation because we can’t help it.

3 thoughts on “Uh oh, earthquakes add to these Strange Times

  1. I did feel the 4.8 earthquake this morning here in SE Massachusetts. But only because I was sitting in my quiet office chair in my quiet study. I felt a very mild vibration through the arms of my chair which lasted about 5 seconds. Having lived for a short time in southern California many years ago, I thought, this feels like a very mild earthquake. Initially discounting this thought, I looked out the window to see if any large trucks or construction vehicles were going by, which happens occasionally.
    I then decided to wait and to check online sources later to see if there were earthquake reports, which I found less than an hour later.

  2. “Take one very awful person, MTG … I mean, TAKE HER, please, get her the hell out of here. Sadly, she is not the only one promoting the idea that End Times are upon us. The heat from religious fearmongering about the eclipse was just turned up.”

    LOL and so so so in agreement with you about MTG and her addle-brained kin. Wondering if the Conservatives attending the PA Leadership Conference in Camp Hill that began the next day led off their festivities with similar inanity. We were taking out the trash when news of this NJ quake hit, and felt nothing north of Harrisburg.

Leave a Reply (Comments may not be immediately approved.)

Back To Top