Some Utahns preparing for the "Big One" wonder if a minor earthquake that rumbled through six Midwestern states last week is a sign of things to come.
The quake shook parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee and Indiana on Sept 26. It measured 4.6 on the Richter scale and rattled dishes, disrupted power and set off alarms.So, what's the connection between Utah and states that are more than 1,500 miles away?
Earlier this year, a New Mexico climatologist warned a major quake would rock the Midwest Dec. 2 or 3. He made the same projection for Utah's Wasatch Fault.
Folks in America's "heartland" are taking Iben Browning's words seriously: Some school districts are closing and National Guard exercises are planned on those days.
When the minor temblor struck there last week, residents thought their "Big One" had arrived.
"Some people are thinking (Browning) might be right," says James Derk, an Evansville, Ill., newspaper editor. "Especially after the quake last week."
Earthquake experts in Utah acknowledge the possibility of a smaller temblor striking the Wasatch Fault before a large one.
Sue Nava, a senior staff seismologist at the University of Utah, said about half of the major quakes in California are preceded by smaller ones. And though research isn't complete on the Wasatch Fault, Nava said Utahns could possibly experience a minor shake before the "Big One."
Meanwhile, Utah residents shouldn't be as worried about a large quake as people in the Midwest, according to a Browning spokeswoman.
"(The Wasatch Fault) has one of the lower probabilities of going off," said Evelyn Garriss, who is also Browning's daughter. "There are faults we are more concerned about."
Browning earlier told the Deseret News the possibility of a major temblor striking the Wasatch Fault is greater on Dec. 2 or 3 than it will be again for the next 50 years. "If it goes any time in the near future, it will go on those days," he said. "Anyone living on the Wasatch Fault, I am concerned for."
Utah scientists estimate there is a 20 percent chance that an earthquake of 7.5 or greater on the Richter scale will occur somewhere along the Wasatch Front in the next 50 years.
Garriss says Utahns should take note of her father's projection because they live near a fault, not just because he said an earthquake might strike in December.
Browning's theory, based on the idea that sun, moon and earth alignment produces powerful tidal forces that could trigger earthquakes, is controversial and often disputed by earthquake experts.