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6.0 Magnitude Earthquake In Gulf Of Mexico Shakes Southeast
By Mitch Traphagen mitch@observernews.net
Sep 10, 2006, 11:24

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Image from the USGS
The U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Informaiton Center is reporting a 6.0 magnitude earthquake has occurred in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 250 miles WSW of Anna Maria, Florida.  Tremors were reportedly felt in the Tampa Bay Area and as far north as Georgia. The quake occurred at the epicenter at approximately 10:56 a.m. Sunday morning.  The quake was updated from 5.8 magnitude.

The following information has been released by the U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center: 

A strong earthquake occurred about 250 miles (405 km) south-southwest of Apalachicola, Florida at 8:56 AM MDT, Sep 10, 2006 (10:56 AM EDT in Florida). The magnitude and location may be revised when additional data and further analysis results are available. This earthquake was felt in parts of Florida, Georgia and Alabama. No reports of damage or casualties have been received at this time.

This earthquake was centered beneath the Gulf of Mexico, well distant from the nearest active plate boundary. Such "midplate" earthquakes are much less common than earthquakes occurring on faults near plate boundaries, and most probably represent the release of long-term tectonic stresses that ultimately originate from forces applied at the plate boundary. This is the largest of more than a dozen shocks that have been instrumentally recorded from the eastern Gulf of Mexico in the past three decades, and it is the most widely felt. The most recent significant earthquake in the region occurred on February 10th, 2006 and had a magnitude of 5.2. We have not associated this earthquake with a specific causative fault. Earthquakes of this magnitude are unlikely to generate destructive tsunami. No significant tsunami was generated by this earthquake.

Florida is not considered a high hazard for earthquakes and occurrences are relatively rare.  Among the worst reported were near St. Augustine in 1879 which caused damage to structures.  Florida is also somewhat susceptible to large earthquakes occurring elsewhere.

More recently, small earthquakes were reported off Merritt Island in 1973 and in Daytona in 1975.

For more information click here for the U.S. Geological Survey.

-- Mitch Traphagen, Observer News

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