ORU Campus Fine After OK Earthquake

A 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit Oklahoma around 9 a.m. on Oct. 13. The epicenter of the earthquake was about six miles southeast of Norman but was also felt in Tulsa.

On the ORU campus, students and administrators alike felt the vibrations from the quake.

GoldMine Administrator Brad Ward said he felt the distinctive shaking when he was siting in his office in the Admissions Department.

"My first thought was, 'Is this an earthquake? No, we're in Oklahoma, it's not an earthquake," Ward said.

Ward said the admissions office is at a "sweet spot" of the building that is sensitive to vibrations.

"It wasn't that different from the construction in the nursing department last summer," Ward said, "except that instead of the shaking being up and down, it was side to side."

Ward immediately saw on Twitter that different people around Oklahoma and on the ORU campus had felt the quake.

"I was surprised," Ward said. "It's not the the sort of thing that happens in Oklahoma."

ORU's Director of Public Relations, Jeremy Burton, also felt the shaking from the earthquake in his office on the seventh floor of the GC where several doors began to rattle.

"It felt like it was heavy equipment [working on] the building," Burton said, noting that renovation work was being completed just down the hall.

Burton also saw an explosion of Twitter posts immediately following the quake. He said that people he knew in the Bank of Oklahoma Tower in downtown Tulsa hadn't felt the earthquake at all.

ORU Security Officer Glenn Twilley said it was the biggest quake he remembered in his 20 years of being at ORU.

Students staying on campus over fall break also said they felt the earth shaking.

Senior Lynn Jones who lives on Susie 7 (Lamda Phi) said she felt the building sway back and forth. Her brother, Mark, a resident of Wesley 8 (Vatican), said he thought his roommate was shaking his bunk bed.

ORU Emeritus Professor of Earth Science and Geography, Dr. Nate Meleen grew up near the San Andreas fault in California and has been actively watching seismic activity in Oklahoma for a number of years.

"Earthquakes can happen anyplace, but they just statistically happen closer to faults," Meleen said.

According to Meleen, this Oct. 13 earthquake was not the first to be reported in the area over the years.

An earthquake observation center in Leonard, Okla., just southeast of Bixby has been recording a number of smaller earthquakes over the years, Meleen said. They garnered little media attention because of their small size, but many of them occurred near the Norman/Oklahoma City area.

Meleen estimates that the earthquakes -- with this latest one being the most intense -- could be related to long-term stress from the Arbuckle Mountains between Norman and the southern Oklahoma border.

This earthquake registered at 5.1 on the Richter scale, according to the Tulsa World. Meleen explained that every whole-number increase on the logarithmic Richter scale indicates ten times the amount of ground motion and over thirty times the seismic energy.

Almost every earthquake over 6.0 on the Richter scale has resulted in fatalities, Meleen said.

"[This earthquake was] very close to where you start getting significant action," Meleen said.

According to the ORU Department of Public Safety and Security, no damage or injuries have yet been reported.

"You can't predict when they'll happen," said Meleen, but he estimates that there may be three to four more earthquakes in the coming months.

Earthquakes tend to cluster like a bell curve with smaller aftershocks following a bigger quake, such as this one, Meleen said. Any aftershocks would be lower on the Richter scale.

"[Future aftershocks will] not be too much to worry about," Meleen said.

All across the state, the most common emotion of those who experienced the earthquake as that of surprise.

"We're used to tornadoes, but not to earthquakes," Meleen said.

Though little damage has been reported, the quake has made some significant news across the state.

"It definitely made for an interesting morning," Burton said.

To report your experience in the quake, visit the Oklahoma Geological Survey's website.

By Melanie Wespetal and Bryce Merkl