On Saturday, folks in Northern Maine may have felt a little shake under their feet when a 2.4 magnitude earthquake rattled Smyrna. Locations around the area may have felt it as well.
Earthquakes in Maine are not unusual but, according to the Maine Geological Survey, Maine doesn't typically experience anything more than a 2 or 3 magnitude earthquake, which doesn't cause much activity other than a little shake of the ground.
Another kind of quake that Mainer's may not know about is one that occurs during our winter time and maybe what you thought could be an earthquake. They are called "frost quakes" and may have you wake up with a sudden jolt thinking something exploded.
Maine's other quake, the 'frost quake'
Frost quakes, or a cryoseism, are the result of deep freezing in the ground which results in what seems like an earthquake. The presence that cryoseism has happened includes a loud crack or bang that some have reported as sounding like an explosion. Your home may even shake like an earthquake.
Even though these 'Frost Quakes' may seem like an actual earthquake, as monitoring has gone in Maine suspected cases have yet to be detected by the New England seismic monitoring network, showing no presence of an actual earthquake.
Maine's recordings of cryoseism activity
The Maine Geological Survey has kept track of reports of suspected cryoseisms in the state and has them to check out on the Maine.gov website. The last time the Maine Geological Survey has documented a case of a suspected 'Frost Quake' was in 2017 in Madison. This particular incident happened between 3:30 and 4:30 A.M. with about 4 loud booms in the one-hour period, each time shaking the reporter's home. The notes about the incident include 'Probable cyroseisms. After three days in the upper 40's to low 50's, temperatures dropped into the single numbers overnight on January 13th into January 14th.
Trends of cytoseisms: Lower snow cover amounts
Something that seems to be important when it comes to 'Frost Quakes' is not having a lot of snow cover. Right now, Maine has been laden with a few feet of snow, thicker in some areas than others but, still probably enough to avoid the scare of a 'Frost Quake'. But, with a recent 'heat wave' we have experienced and now a cold snap here, Maine may find itself having a 'Frost Quake' somewhere.
Trends of cytoseisms: Very localized effect
Another commonality of cryoseisms is that the boom is usually only felt by a single household or just a few neighbors here in the State of Maine.
Trends of cytoseisms: Reports frequently witnessed at nighttime
Since reporting began in 2000, most of the reports have booms and shakes during the dark hours between 7:30 PM - 5 AM. Additionally, the booms and shakes seem to typically happen a few times throughout the night.
So, if you wake up to a thunderous boom that makes you jump out of bed in the next few nights consider the 'frost quake' as a possibility of reason.
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