February 9, 2011 Arkansas Earthquakes
February 23, 2011: Simon Brewer documented three small earthquakes near the town of Greenbrier, AR.
This was my first "earthquake chase"! Earthquakes are nearly, if not completely, impossible to forecast, so driving to a specific location might take a person years to feel one. I always thought chasing earthquakes was possible, but it might involve waiting for a region to experience a large earthquake, and then getting to that location to document the aftershocks. Lucky for me, but unlucky for residents, there was an active swarm of earthquakes occurring in central Arkansas.
I targeted a the town of Greenbrier, AR north of Conway. This was a special occasion; Greenbrier was in the midst of a swarm of earthquakes, and I drove there with the hope of experiencing at least one. I stayed in Conway, AR the first night (February 21-22) and felt one small earthquake (2.0M). The following morning I stayed on the north side of Greenbrier and the earthquake activity all but stopped.
The picture on the right was taken looking south at the Greenbrier, AR sign on the north end of town.
While driving to Central Arkansas I came up with many ways to possibly document the earthquake. Earthquakes shake, rattle and roll the earth, so most earthquake video is shaky, but I didn't want to just hold a camera. The earthquakes in Arkansas were generally small, so I didn't expect furniture to fall over, so I had to get creative. I placed an unopened bottle of water on the sink countertop; this was the most sturdy surface in the hotel room and my walking around did not cause the water to vibrate in the bottle. I set a camcorder on a tripod and zoomed-in on the top of the water bottle keeping the water surface in focus. Any small earthquake would cause a vibration on the surface of the water.
This worked; I documented vibrations with a 2.0M (M = Moment of Magnitude), 2.2M, and 2.8M earthquakes. The 2.0M was barely noticed. The 2.2 occurred in the early morning hours and was weak, but a audible rumble was heard along with a small jolt. The 2.8M was relatively strong compared to the others with a strong jolt and a very loud audible rumble. The bottle of water actually moved slightly with the 2.8M earthquake.
I wanted to stay another day, but I didn't want to spend anymore money on hotel rooms, so I packed up and drove back to Norman, OK. Later that evening a 3.5M struck near Greenbrier.
The picture on the right was taken looing east on S.R. 285; most of the earthquake epicenters were located at or very near this location.
The picture on the right is looking south at a Greenbrier, AR watertower on the north end of town.