Wednesday, June 23, 2010

If I'd known there was going to be an earthquake, I would have shaved my legs

At 1:41 p.m. on June 23, 2010, somewhere 18 km below the surface of the earth, under the sleepy Quebec town of Val-des-Bois, a sudden pressure release occurred, probably along reactivated faults on the failed Precambrian rift stretching the length of the West Quebec Seismic Zone.

Seismic waves rushed out in all directions, through rock and sediment, rippling up to and across the earth's surface, rolling through fields and forests, villages and cities, lakes and rivers.

The magnitude 5.0 earthquake hit Ottawa fairly hard and moved outwards, rumbling through most of Ontario and Quebec and parts of New York state.

In Ottawa, frightened people ran from buildings as first the up-and-down motion of the P waves and then the side-to-side movement of the S waves shook the city. Cell phone systems were jammed. Schools and office buildings were evacuated. Thousands of people milled aimlessly around outside government buildings waiting for the all clear from the teams that had gone back inside to check for structural damage.

And one government worker tried to remain as inconspicuous as possible among the throngs of people, seeing as she had run out of the house late that morning, dressed in a short skirt to combat the forecast hot and sticky temperatures and safe in the knowledge that even though she had not had time to shave, no one would see her unshaven legs, as she would be alone in her office all day.



  1. I love love love the artwork...

    With the rumbling, I am pretty sure that no one was looking at your legs. Good thing they didn't find burried in the (non-existent) rubble.

    Can I say that this is possibly the best explanation I've seen of what happened. Thanks!

  2. Hmmmmmm - I wonder who she was. I hope you didn't laugh at her. :-)

  3. I'm with Jen, it would have most cruel of you to mock that poor government worker.

  4. Poor, hairy woman! :)

    Did you know we even felt it here in Dayton?

  5. Anonymous5:57 PM

    Look at you all geological!! Here's a question I have -- Wednesday evening we were treated to endless footage of a local seismologist with a giant forehead blathering on and on about what had isn't it the job of seismologists to know in advance that this stuff is going to happen? Otherwise what's the point of their whole job? Why didn't the just let us know that we could expect a little shaking??

  6. Better stubble than rubble. lol

  7. LOL that poor poor hairy legged woman.

  8. Nat - Thanks, I like doing the artwork, and you're welcome for the explanation.

    Jen and Jen - No, I'd never laugh at her.

    SaraJ - What did it feel like in Dayton? Did you recognize it as an earthquake?

    XUP - Earthquake prediction is in its infancy, and probably is never going to happen. We have lots of meteorologists, but none of them can tell you right now where and when the next tornado is going to hit. Where there is surface expression of the faults, like in California, seismologists can set up instruments to track movement along faults, but here in Ontario, the faults are deeply buried, more than 18 km down, and so those kinds of instruments are useless here.

    Laura - You have a point there, lol.

    Jobthingy - Yep, poor hairy woman.

  9. I can't help but think that people were so thrilled at having some excitement in their boring public servant jobs they didn't even notice the furry legged one.