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Magnitude 4.5 earthquake rattles windows as it strikes Midwest

SHARE Magnitude 4.5 earthquake rattles windows as it strikes Midwest

CHICAGO — A rare earthquake struck northern Illinois early Monday, rattling windows and awakening residents across several states.

No injuries were reported from the quake, which happened about 1:11 a.m. CDT.

Brian Lassige, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Colorado, said the quake was magnitude 4.5, and its epicenter was about eight miles northwest of Ottawa in northern Illinois, close to the village of Troy Grove.

Lassige said earthquakes in the area of northern Illinois are rare, but ones were recorded in 1881, 1912 and 1972. The rural area is about 70 miles west of Chicago.

There were no reports of major damage from the temblor, although police agencies and radio stations within the quake area were inundated with telephone calls.

"It was mayhem around here for a while," said Pattie Burke, a dispatcher for the Ottawa police. "We had more than 200 calls from residents in a short period of time, all of them wanting to know what had happened. A lot of them seemed to think a truck had crashed into their house.

"Here in the station, it felt like an aircraft was about to crash right here."

The geological survey said the three-second quake happened at a depth of 3.1 miles in a geologic structure associated with the Sandwich Fault Zone. It was not connected with the New Madrid Fault farther south, which has been responsible for the Midwest's most serious earthquakes.

Reports of the shaking came from at least as far east as Valparaiso, Ind., and as far west as parts of Iowa, and from Wisconsin in the north to the St. Louis area in the south. It was also felt in southwestern Michigan.

Gary Spaulding of Marseilles, Ill., said he was relaxing in his mobile home when the quake struck.

"It was like somebody shot off dynamite," said Spaulding, who added that his cat leaped out of his lap and would still not come near him two hours later. "I thought maybe a tree hit my trailer."

Joe Knapp of Delafield, Wis., just west of Milwaukee, said he awoke when the bed began shaking. "Everything was just rolling back and forth," Knapp said.

Craig Nesbit, a spokesman for the Exelon Corp., which owns the Quad Cities, LaSalle and Dresden nuclear power plants in northern Illinois, said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission declared a low-level alert for them, although there appeared to be no damage.

"All of them were operating 100 percent, and no problems were reported, but we did a check of all safety systems," Nesbit said.

Another quake early Monday awakened residents of the Alaska panhandle. No significant damage was reported from the quake, which happened at 1:50 a.m. (5:50 a.m. EDT).

The quake, centered beneath the ocean, had a magnitude of 6.7, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The survey said the two quakes were unrelated.

On the Net: earthquake.usgs.gov/recenteqsUS/Quakes/uskgad.htm