John Ross Ferrara / @ 10:37 a.m. / Nature

Downed Old Growth Redwood Triggers Earthquake Sensor in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park



Photo provided by Jamie Wayne.

If an old growth redwood falls in the forest, does it make an earthquake?

Yes! Well, it sure feels like one anyway. 

Local geologist and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park employee Jamie Wayne tells LoCO that he was woken up by what felt like an earthquake around 5 a.m. this morning.

“I awoke to a heavy squall of weather hitting my house at Prairie Creek,” Wayne wrote in a blog post about the incident. “It woke me up and the wind was very strong. Immediately after, I felt my whole house shake from an earthquake.”

Realizing the shaking was likely from a downed redwood, Wayne went to check on a small earthquake sensor in his garage, which he hosts as part of the USGS NetQuakes program. One of many sensors that help generate the shaking intensity maps which accompany USGS earthquake reports.

Wayne’s readings.

“The house shook pretty good, but it was very short lived maybe five seconds,” Wayne said. “My house is surrounded by old growth redwoods on all sides so I immediately thought one fell nearby. I quickly checked my seismometer data from my garage seismometer and it triggered and recorded the earthquake.”

According to Wayne’s readings, the tree triggered what is equivalent to a 2.1 in moment magnitude scale. But you can read more about the technicalities of it in Wayne’s blog post. 

 After taking the reading, Wayne set out for a hike, and was able to find the massive tree, which he estimates was over 300 feet tall.

“I Waited till sunrise to go hike and look for it, and I didn’t have to travel far!” Wayne said. “Its huge! A monster 15-foot-diameter old growth redwood! Right in the Atlas grove! This tree had to have been over 300 feet tall!”

Check out Wayne’s video footage of his findings below.


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