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updated: 12/30/2010 2:10 PM

Magnitude 3.8 earthquake rattles Indiana

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Daily Herald Report

INDIANAPOLIS -- A magnitude 3.8 earthquake shook parts of Indiana and several other states Thursday, prompting a wave of calls to local authorities from rattled residents but causing little damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey said on its website that the quake, which was about three miles deep, occurred at 7:55 a.m. EST and was centered near Greentown in Howard County, about 50 miles north of Indianapolis.

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USGS geophysicist Randy Baldwin said the quake, which lasted only a few seconds, was felt by people as far away as Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Wisconsin. A listing on the agency's website even included responses from New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia.

"It's really quite remarkable how widely this was felt," said John Steinmetz, director of the Indiana Geological Survey in Bloomington.

Suburban residents reported feeling the tremble, but police departments contacted in Cook, Lake, Kane and DuPage counties said they did not receive any phone calls of concern this morning.

The quake initially was reported as magnitude 4.2, but the USGS later downgraded it.

WTHR-TV in Indianapolis reported that it received reports from viewers of minor damage, including cracked windows and fallen gutters.

The Indiana Department of Transportation said it was inspecting bridges within 10 miles of the epicenter for structural damage.

Jo Ella Michael, 55, said she felt the quake as she was repairing Christmas ornaments at her home near Arcanum in western Ohio.

"The house just kind of shook, like a great big truck went rolling by, and things on the countertop rattled really good," Michael said. "I'm like, 'OK -- this isn't right.'"

Howard County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Steve Rogers said the department was bombarded by phone calls after the quake from people wondering if there had been an explosion. He said some people reported hearing a loud boom.

Baldwin said such booms are fairly common during earthquakes.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security said it was monitoring the situation and was in contact with emergency management officials throughout the state. The agency urged people who had felt the quake to report their experiences on the USGS website.

Steinmetz said the epicenter of the quake was near the little-known Sharpsville fault, which runs through southeastern Howard and northern Tipton counties. He said quakes were rare in the northern half of Indiana, where only three had been recorded since the early 1800s -- one in 1881 and another in 1938.

Steinmetz said quakes were more common in southwestern Indiana.

The last major quake to shake Indiana was a 5.2 quake in April 2008 centered in Illinois that was felt as far away as Atlanta.

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