There have been 52 earthquakes in Italy so far this year. One of the worst occurred in October. It was a 6.6 magnitude earth-shaker. Its epicenter was Norcia in the same area that was hit by a quake in August. The 6.6er on October 30 was the most powerful one since 1980 and destroyed Norcia’s Basilica of St. Benedict, which had been standing since the 14th century and is now rubble. St. Benedict, the Father of Monasticism, was born in Norcia.
Norcia is 67 miles from Perugia, a town Ruth & I know well and love. There was less damage there but the area is vulnerable. The same region was struck by a 6.2 earthquake in August. That one killed 300. When will #53 occur?
Ruth and I have been lucky. We have only experienced one earthquake in our lifetimes. It occurred about 10 am on a Saturday morning and we were in a store in its lighting fixture department. We knew what was happening when the crystal chandeliers attached to the ceiling started dancing. It was an unforgettable sight. We hurried home to see if there was damage. Our only loss was a cookie jar. We lived in St Louis at the time.
St. Louis is close to the New Madrid Fault. A major earthquake was expected the whole time we lived there. The one on this fault in 1812 damaged many houses in St. Louis. It is estimated to have been about 8.0 on the Richter scale, but there was no scientific measurement at that time. The quake was bad enough to create Reelfoot Lake near its epicenter and cause the Mississippi River to flow north instead of south for a while. It made church bells ring in Boston, Massachusetts, and affected the weather for a long time; locally, 1812 was called the year without a summer. St. Louisans are told to expect another earth shaker at any time. The New Madrid Fault is estimated to be 6 times larger than the San Andreas.
Ruth & I still live in an earthquake zone. Washington & Oregon experience them every week. Most are so minor that we don’t feel them. They probably average 2.5. We are warned that we can expect an 8.0 magnitude quake in the next 50 years. There’s a 20% chance of this because of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which means that those who live on the coast also have to expect and prepare for a major tsunami.
The U.S. Geological Survey says there’s a 100% chance of an earthquake every day. Let’s hope they continue to be minor and in unpopulated areas. The problem is, it’s getting harder to find unpopulated areas in coastal California and all of Italy.