Wisconsin: Ice quake causes property damage
Tuesday, January 14, 2014, 4:01 PM -
The booming and shaking from an apparent "ice quake" still has people talking in Fond Du Lac county, Wisconsin.
Dennis Olsen was sitting home last Tuesday evening when he got quite the shock.
"We heard a boom, then another one. I said, 'what the heck?'" he recalls.
"I thought maybe something blew up."
Olsen checked his house and garage but didn't see anything strange until, the next day, his grandson noticed this crack running about 100 feet along the driveway.
"We kinda looked at this here, and then we saw there's a crack going both ways. I thought, 'that might've had something to do with it.'"
So what caused the crack?
Geology professor Tim Paulsen says it was likely a cryoseism or "ice quake."
Paulsen says the quakes can be caused two ways. One happens when it gets cold enough for the ground to freeze.
"When the ground shrinks or contracts a little bit, it can actually cause cracking," he explains.
Paulsen says the second cause is the most likely in Olsen's case.
That's when the weather warms up, the snow melts and goes into the ground, and then it freezes again during a deep cold snap.
"...Freezing water that has infiltrated the ground, and when that water expands, it'll cause the ground to undergo a stress and, in some cases, it will break the ground."
Paulsen says the ground breaking caused the booms and shakes across Fond Du Lac county.
Olsen says in 48 years living in the town of Waupun, he's never seen or felt anything like it.