FOX47 NEWS - Ice Quake

Jeff Angileri
Jan 31, 2008, 10:44 PM

Eric Beyer was in his foreign language class at Van Hise Hall, one of the tallest buildings near the shore of Lake Mendota,

When all of a sudden.

Our entire class felt a lurch in the entire building, Beyer says.

Seismologist Cliff Thurber says the tremor was due to an ice quake.

It's a big chunk of ice that thrusts upon himself, Thurber says.

Thurber says the quake happened on Lake Mendota and believes the phenomenon is caused by the constant change in the weather.

As ice gets colder. It wants to expand- so basically a slice of ice by the lake shore that has no where to go so it ends up crushing itself, Thurber says.

A seismometer at the UW indicated the tremor lasted two to three seconds.

For those who thought the disturbance may have been an earth quake,

They were sort of right.

Earthquakes happen when two plates of earth collide causing the ground to shake.

What most felt today is similar- but on ice.

We have one phenomenon in ice and the other happening in rock. So with that- the physics are somewhat different but stepping back- its very much like an earthquake.

Thurber says the reason most people haven't heard of ice quakes is because they are of little scientific interest.

He says unlike occurrences such as earthquakes or meteors falling to earth.

Ice quakes are neither extremely rare or dangerous.

Thurber says the last big ice quake in the Madison area happened around ten years ago.

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