Thursday, September 21, 2023

Odd goings on at Lake Cumberland

Did the odd goings on at Lake Cumberland on Good Friday, March 27, 1964 have a connection to an earthquake that had occurred three minutes earier at Anchorage Alaska 3,000 milesl away?

While University of Kentucky scientists said there was little possibility of a connection, the superintendent of Lake Cumberland State Park confirmed reports by fishermen of a series of mysterious waves that swept across the lake at about the time as the earthquake.

John Flanagan said the waves were a foot to 18 inches high, and snapped two cables on the Jamestown Boat Dock. Other reports told of the lake falling and rising from three to four feet several times. The boat dock operator said the lake was acting funny - calm in the middle but whirling in circles near the shore.

Ten to twelve people who were at the boat dock witnessed the phenomenon. Two fishermen, William Kaiser, Jr., and James Young, both of Fern Creek, said they saw a weird shift in the waters of the lake eight or nine times, with the water several times dipping as much as four feet.

There were no reports of earth tremors or other natural phenomena in the area. Flanagan said it was like a big boat going by and throwing its wake at the shore, except none of the small power craft boats that were on the lake at the time were large enough to create waves of the size indicated.

Lake Cumberland wasn't the place reporting strange occurrences. A U. S. Army engineer at Wolf Creek Dam reported that someone called up from the park and asked what they were doing with the water at the dam. The engineer said he knew of nothing that would cause such an occurrence.

Lake Cumberland and Wolf Creek Dam weren't the only places to report strange activity that night. Witnesses said the water near Dix Dam at Lake Herrington, some 50 miles north­east of Lake Cumberland between Mercer and Garrard Counties, slopped around like it does in a dishpan. One man said pieces of a dock, each weigh­ing several tons, were tossed against each other like matchboxes. Another person said waves reached five to six feet.

The Great Alaskan earthquake occurred at 9:36 p.m. Albany time, triggering massive landslides near downtown Anchorage and several residential areas, damaging or destroying thirty blocks of dwellings, commercial buildings, water mains and gas, sewer, telephone and electrical systems.

Ground fissures, collapsing structures and tsunamis resulting from the earthquake caused 131 deaths. Lasting four minutes and thirty-eight seconds, the magnitude 9.2 earthquake remains the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America, and the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the world since modern seismography began in 1900.

A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake usually can be felt as far as 300 miles from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage out to 25 miles. In the early afternoon of August 23, 2011, millions of people throughout the eastern U.S. felt shaking from a magnitude 5.8 earthquake near Mineral, Virginia. Although not the strongest earthquake to have occurred in the eastern U.S., let alone the western U.S., the Virginia earthquake was likely felt by more people than any earthquake in North America’s history. This is due to the large distances at which people felt ground shaking and because of the density of the population in the eastern U.S.

The magnitude of an earthquake is related to the length of the fault on which it occurs. That is, the longer the fault, the larger the earthquake. A fault is a break in the rocks that make up the Earth's crust, along which rocks on either side have moved past each other. No fault long enough to generate a magnitude 10 earthquake is known to exist, and if it did, it would extend around most of the planet.

The largest earthquake ever recorded was a magnitude 9.5 on May 22, 1960 in Chile on a fault that is almost 1,000 miles long…a “megaquake” in its own right.

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