A McCook quarry admits it was blasting Monday when a tremor was reported through the region, but told La Grange officials a separate seismic event occurred after their blast.
The tremor measured a 3.7 magnitude and occurred just after 12:30 p.m., according to the USGS website.
A representative of Hanson Material Co. in McCook took messages, but couldn’t provide a statement as to mining operations for the day.
But the village of La Grange said Hanson reported they were performing routine blasting operations at 12:35 p.m. Monday, and that the blast was consistent with their typical operations. The quarry reported the recorded seismic readings related to the blast were below regulatory limits. Quarry operators also told the village that about seven seconds after the blast, a separate seismic event was recorded.
Hanson is in the process of reviewing the seismic readings in order to better understand what may have occurred, but at this time they are denying any correlation between their blast and the seismic event, the village reported.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which has oversight authority over quarry operations, is investigating the event.
La Grange officials are telling residents any claims for damage should be directed to the Hanson Material Service quarry by calling the Lyons Township Quarry Complaint line at 1-866-934-3278.
“My first thought was that either a vehicle struck our building, or something occurred along the rail line,” said Hinsdale Deputy Police Chief Mark Wodka. who was working in the police station on the north side of the Burlington Northern railroad. “It was a fairly significant tremor.”
He and other officers evacuated the building, until they determined it was safe to return.
Amy Luckett of Burr Ridge was having lunch on her couch when she felt the couch move beneath her.
“My whole couch shook,” she said.
Moments later she spoke to a friend on the other side of town who reported feeling the same thing.
“It lasted just a couple of seconds,” she said.
While reports are that it was related to a quarry blast, Luckett, who grew up at 183rd Street and Halsted, near the Thornton quarry, said she knows what a quarry blast feels like. This, she said, was different.
The Burr Ridge Police Department fielded about 10 phone calls from concerned residents in the moments following the shaking. The calls came from all parts of town.
“I actually thought a vehicle hit the building,” said Scott Novak, Countryside deputy police chief. “It was a pretty good shake.”
La Grange resident Karen Deane said she thought a tree had fallen on her house, which shook about 12:36 p.m., because a tree-trimming crew was on her street. A neighbor also felt the walls in her home shake, Deane said.
From her office in the basement of the La Grange Public Library, Nikki Zimmermann, marketing coordinator, said she felt the building shake.
“It was intense and so brief,” Zimmermann said. “A lot of times, we hear some rumblings upstairs from the kids department, but this was like a giant child. I did think somebody hit the building.”
Zimmermann, who said she experienced earthquakes while living in Japan, said the La Grange area event didn’t feel like a quake because it didn’t last long.
Seventh Avenue School Principal Erin Hall said students and staff took the earth rumblings in stride, because they’re accustomed to slight tremors on almost a daily basis from nearby quarry mining operations.
“We definitely all could feel it. It was definitely larger than a small rumble,” Hall said. “I did a quick building walk-through and nothing seemed out of place.”
Assistant Principal Jim O’Keefe was on the playground at St. John of the Cross School in Western Springs when he felt the ground shake. Those inside felt it, too.
“Teachers reported hearing a bang and a rattle, almost like something hit the building,” he said.
The tremor lasted only a few seconds, which didn’t give students time to use the skills they learned during the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill just a few weeks before.
The entire school took part in the Oct. 17 drill, which taught them the basics of what to do in the unlikely case of an earthquake. That might not seem so unlikely any more.
Susan Shewalter, a volunteer at Christ Church of Oak Brook, said she and others at the church heard a blast.
“It shook part of the building, but it didn’t feel like an earthquake to me, Shewalter said. “I experienced an earthquake about 20 years ago when I lived in Willowbrook.”
“We really didn’t know what this was. There’s work being done on the roof at the church, and we thought it might have had something to do with that,” she said.
While Oak Brook police said Monday afternoon that they had not received any calls about the shaking felt throughout much of the area about 12:40 p.m., village officials released a statement at 2:50 p.m., stating that they had received several calls, but that there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
Regular blasting at the quarries in McCook sometimes cause ground shaking in nearby communities, but not at this level. The last large shake occurred in August 2010 and measured 2.7 on the Richter scale in the La Grange area.