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Oklahoma Earthquake rating upgraded to magnitude 5.1

October 13, 2010

An earthquake that struck central Oklahoma today was the second-strongest in the state's history, the Oklahoma Geological Survey reported. No significant damage or serious injuries have been reported with the quake, which was felt in three states.



The Oklahoma Geological Survey  has upgraded the rating of this morning's earthquake to magnitude 5.1, which would be the second-strongest earthquake reported in state history.

OGS research seismologist Austin Holland said continued analysis of the survey data showed the epicenter was about 8 miles southeast of Norman, south of Lake Thunderbird near E Post Oak Road and 84th Avenue SE. Initial reports rated the 9:06 a.m. quake as magnitude 4.5 or 4.3, but Holland said further analysis showed a consistent magnitude of 5.1. The U.S. Geological Survey continues to report a magnitude 4.3.

Gov. Brad Henry said state officials are evaluating the integrity of infrastructure statewide, including roads, bridges and buildings.

"There's certainly no reason to panic, but we want to err on the side of caution and do everything we can to make sure people and structures are safe," Henry said in a statement.

An OGS map shows people reported feeling the quake in several states, including a vast swath of Oklahoma.

People reported to the USGS that they felt the earthquake from as far away as Brentwood, Tenn. (953 miles away); Fenton, Mo. (707 miles); Fort Leavenworth, Kan. (504 miles); Glenmora, La. (635 miles); Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. (439 miles); and Round Rock, Texas (519 miles).

Dozens of callers to The Oklahoman's newsroom from across the state reported feeling and hearing the earthquake, but no significant damage has been reported by callers or local and state officials.

"It came in loud and strong on all of our seismic stations and we are checking all of our equipment now," said Randy Keller, director at the OGS.

Emergency Medical Services Authority in Oklahoma City said dispatchers received numerous calls relating to the earthquake. Most callers were having anxiety and worry over the earthquake, spokeswoman Lara O'Leary said, but two patients suffered falls and needed medical care.

Oklahoma City resident Kenneth Tankersley, 52, was one of them. He broke his left ankle when he fell from a ladder outside his house as the earthquake struck. He said he was trying to take down an antenna when the ground shook.

"I guess my ladder wasn't set very solid, and it just shook me off of it," Tankersley said by telephone. "Somebody else is going to have to put up the Christmas lights. I'm not getting up there again."

Cleveland County Undersheriff Rhett Burnett said he has not heard of any injuries and the only damage reports he has heard were of plates falling off a wall and one cracked window at a house.

Norman Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey advised people to check for structural damage.

"I haven't heard of any damage, but everyone should check for it," he said.

The Financial Building in downtown Norman, which was declared structurally unsafe about a year ago, has been secured since then "and is as safe as any building in Norman now," Bailey said.

"It's fine, although people from the bank across the street did call because they were concerned about it," Bailey said.

Mark Myers, spokesman for the Oklahoma County sheriff's office, said he has not heard of any damage reports in the county. Oklahoma City officials also said they have no reports of damage.

"It's obviously extremely unusual for an earthquake of this magnitude to be felt in Oklahoma City," Mayor Mick Cornett said in a statement. "Fortunately, we have no reports of injuries or significant damage. We are awaiting further information but we have no reason to believe this is anything other than merely an interesting event."

The state Office of Emergency Management has received calls from residents and emergency managers in Bryan, Caddo, Canadian, Cleveland, Coal, Comanche, Garvin, Johnston, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Pontotoc, Stephens and Tulsa counties, spokesman Michelann Ooten said. So far OEM has received no reports of damage or injuries, Ooten said.

The OGS has said a "swarm" of small earthquakes has occurred in central Oklahoma over the past few years. Officials are unsure of the cause.

The largest quakes this year until today's temblor both were magnitude 4.0 — one on Jan. 15 in Choctaw and the other Sept. 19 near Luther, according to The Oklahoman archives.

The largest quake in state history was magnitude 5.5 near El Reno on April 9, 1952, which caused minor damage and injuries to two people hurt by a falling chimney.

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