MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — A rare earthquake struck western Minnesota early Friday, rattling ceiling tiles and prompting a few curious callers to phone 911 but going largely unnoticed by most of the sleeping public, authorities said.

The quake, which the U.S. Geological Survey said was magnitude-2.5, struck at 2:20 a.m. and was felt mostly in the Alexandria area.

“It was like a big boom, and right when that was happening, the house shook,” said Sandy Pederson of Alexandria, Minn.

Sgt. Tom Egan of the Douglas County sheriff’s office said staff at the county’s 911 center felt it and took 25 to 30 calls from the public, mostly from people who were just curious. By contrast, he said, county dispatchers typically get hundreds of calls during severe thunderstorms.

Callers reported some noise and minor movement, including “ceiling tiles bouncing just a touch,” Egan said. But he said nobody reported any damage or anyone hurt. Relatively few people in the largely rural area would have been awake at the time, he said. He said the department was referring callers to the USGS web site for further information.

Minnesota gets a “feelable” earthquake every five to 10 years on average, though that can vary a lot, and more often than not they’re in west-central Minnesota, said Val Chandler, a geophysicist with the Minnesota Geological Survey. The last one confirmed felt was in 1994 in Granite Falls, he said. Chandler said one official in Alexandria who felt this quake told him it felt like a bulldozer going by his house for about 15 seconds.

The USGS says the largest earthquake recorded in Minnesota was a magnitude 4.6 quake that caused minor damage to walls and foundations in Stevens County around Morris. But Chandler said the most destructive was in Staples in 1917. Its magnitude was estimated at 4.3, and it knocked over chimneys, shook items off shelves and shattered windows, he said.

“You can have an earthquake just about anywhere but you only have big earthquakes on faults that are active,” said Gary Patterson, a geologist at the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis.

The Alexandria area is not on an active fault, Chandler said. The prevailing theory on such midcontinent earthquakes is that they’re linked to stresses in the large North American plate that might occasionally jostle ancient faults into weak activity.

The USGS put the epicenter about three miles west of Alexandria but qualified that with a large, seven-mile degree of uncertainty.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Adam Carter Reports

Comments (30)
  1. Tim says:

    thats the distant rumble of the Tea party

    1. Lu says:

      I really like that 😉

  2. neil says:

    I have a friend in San Jose, California who says he regulary does not notice earth quakes that will register up to 4.0 in his area, but they expect earthquakes there, I am a Minnesotan and I have friends that refuse to believe we have earhequakes here, so actualliy the smallest activity here will make great conversation( We are the type of folk that will spend the entire day talkng about the weather). I think it is cool, so report on!

  3. Mark Lavalla says:

    Wonder if its worth commenting about? JK 🙂

  4. Tony says:

    Shhhhh, my girlfriend thought it was me……

    1. Laura Albertson says:

      That is awesome! Thanks for the chuckle. 🙂

  5. Cory says:

    Temblor, learn somthing new everyday

  6. Cheryl B says:

    I didn’t know MIN was even on a fault line. I have lived in Cali, but not long enough to experience any earthquakes. A quake here in Minnesota? Seems like I should be really scared but I guess my mind is on the devistating tornados that ripped the south apart this week, killing hundreds. My prayers for everyone.

    I won’t even mention we could have the same violent weather tomorrow.

    1. Tony says:

      You don’t have to live on or near a fault line to experience an earthquake. Tectoic plates shift and slide all around the globe. And yes, we will have devastating tornadoes this spring and summer here.

    2. KC says:

      Earthquakes actually happen all the time all over the place – not just fault lines, just most of them are so mild that they aren’t felt on the surface. This is one of the more “severe” ones that manged to reach the surface. An earthquake like this happens every few years and generally not anything to worry about.

      As for the weather…I guess we are approaching storm season, so yeah we should probably spend more time watching the skies than the ground.

    3. Justin Ashley Donovan says:

      2012 coming to fast just think about it. aint going to watch that movie again.

    4. kw says:

      Yes all up the mississippi river,in the 1990’s i lived in a apt building in downtown st. paul watching tv with my youngest daughter, lived on the 10th floor all at once the building swayed back and forth 2 times and then kinda raddeled thing’s. new’s brook in and said we had just had a after shock from the earthquake that had happened in India early that day.. that is the only one i want to be in, and so glad the one we had today was not a 9. one.. no longer live on a 10th floor live on soled ground..

  7. pat says:

    This has happened here before. Several years ago I was sitting watching TV in the basement, (cement floor), and felt the sofa move. Later they reported on a small tremor. Many years ago I also saw the chandelier move in Decatur Ill.

  8. Shakey says:

    It wasn’t the rattle….. but what sounded like a explosion, that got my attention!

    1. Teresa says:

      Agreed! I live in Alexandria, and at exactly 2:20 am I heard a huge boom and what sounded like extreme thunder for at least 20 seconds. It was a little scary! The house was shaking. I can’t (and don’t want to) even imagine what a 9.0 feels like.

      1. Karen Urman says:

        You wouldn’t survive a 9.0. Im from Cali and felt lots of earthquakes….a 2.5 you would not even feel…seriously….if you heard or felt something like an explosion there is not a chance it was the 2.5 earthquake.

  9. Barbara Cihlar says:

    This story is getting more FB recommendations than others! According to USGS it happened around 2:13 am and it was felt. What is interesting is that there was a much stronger quake that came out of central MN in 1860, as did this one. The USGS site has tons of maps and even a history on MN quakes. I’m glad WCCO reported on this rare event.

  10. Daniel1956 says:

    No, it was those three burritos I ate last night for supper. My wife kicked me for that one. Almost fell out of bed.

  11. Sean says:

    That’s Kirby spinning in his grave after last night.

    1. Chuck says:

      That is a good one… thanks for making us smile!

    2. Ferris Lind says:

      That makes me SICK , go crawl back under your rock

      1. JamieinMN says:

        oh gosh it’s a joke, chill.

  12. fw says:

    I would think 0.2’s are happening all the time and we just don’t feel them. Remember that the Richter scale numbers represent a geometric progression, not a direct mathmatical progression.

  13. M B says:

    There’s actually a number of ancient faults that run through Minnesota.
    Check this PDF (from the U of M Morris) for more info.
    Page 3 has the map of the faults.

  14. Mr. Mark says:

    Reminds me of an R.E.M. song….”it’s the end of the world as we know it….”

  15. hockeyby says:


  16. brandon says:

    i live in alaska and we had a 4.7 on monday. it lasted about 2 seconds…15-20 seconds is pretty hard to believe. we have 2.0’s just abut every day. i have felt a total of 4 quakes in 5 years of living here. there were maybe some that i was sleeping and did not wake up though.

  17. UpNorthNaturalist says:

    Minnesota’s geological history is a rich one, and these innumerable, minor tremors are a sign that the earth isn’t asleep beneath us either. There are numerous faults in Minnesota, both active and inactive, some of which can be seen in the exposed rocks in Northeaster Minnesota. We have seen some powerful ones, such as Morris in 1975 (4.6) and Staples in 1917 (4.8). In our state’s long geological history, we have seen massive volcanic eruptions, glacial upheaval and prehistoric seas. We and our neighbors have all these to thank for the wonderful and varied landscapes we share, especially as summer rolls in!

  18. carolmarierust says:

    Earthquakes happen in mid America at times. Like the Missouri quake in the 1800’s, where the might Mississippi reversed coruse for some time.

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