SFA professor says quake shook Nacogdoches

By Holley Nees - email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - You can't see it, but minutes after the earthquake hit Haiti Tuesday, the oldest town in Texas moved.

"When these waves get generated, they'll wrap around the Earth," said Dr. Wesley Brown, assistant professor of geology.

Although Brown says nobody could see or feel the earthquake in East Texas, an instrument that picks up on seismic waves shows it detected Haiti's disaster.

"You see all this ground motion here that we record here in Nacogdoches," Brown said. "Here are the big waves we call the surface waves."

Nacogdoches moved just three-hundredths of an inch, so it's only detected by the seismometer. But, it doesn't take an instrument to see the earthquake's impact on Haiti.

"In the situation of Haiti, we had a North America plate to the north and we have the Caribbean plate to the south, and the Caribbean plate is moving to the east relative to the North American plate moving to the west and what we have is Haiti sitting on top there," Brown said. "So these rocks that are sitting underneath Haiti, as the plates slide, then these rocks break."

The fault system that failed in Haiti is the same one that runs through Jamaica, where Brown grew up.

"I remember one time in '95 we had an earthquake in Jamaica," Brown said. "We were at lunch, I remember and I remember seeing the wall just open, the roof start caving in, the light fixtures start caving in."

Brown looks to explain an earthquake that shook 26 hundred miles away.

"Our whole duty is to preserve our own lives sometimes, so if earthquakes have been known to take hundreds of thousands of people at one time and any kind of a natural phenomenon that's going to save so much life, it needs to be studied," Brown said.

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