At 3:10 a.m. Tuesday, Rachelle Ziesenis was minding her own business in the middle of her shift as a registered nurse on the fourth floor of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine.
Then she felt something odd.
“It felt like the building had swayed a little bit. It was just kind of a quick swaying motion,” Ziesenis said. “And my first thought was an earthquake. Then I thought that’s ridiculous.”
But according to the U.S. Geological Survey, Ziesenis likely felt the effects of a 3.9 magnitude earthquake at that time centered about 50 miles southwest of St. Louis. The epicenter is more than 250 miles from Lawrence, and according to the USGS online data for the earthquake, people reported feeling the temblor in Shawnee, Leavenworth, Overland Park, Pittsburg and Wichita.
Ziesenis said she only felt the movement for a few seconds and grabbed onto her desk. It didn’t knock anything off the walls.
She called downstairs to security guards on the ground level, who said they didn’t notice anything. A doctor checked his Twitter feed and found immediate reports of the Missouri earthquake.
Ross Black, a Kansas University associate professor of geophysics, said that the earthquake was centered in the western edge of a tectonically active zone in the New Madrid area in Missouri and that the earth’s crust is more stable and not as broken up in the Midwest so waves from small earthquakes can travel farther.
“They are able to maintain their amplitude for greater distances,” Black said. “They do not attenuate as quickly.”
Law enforcement agencies in Missouri received several calls around the time of the earthquake, but there were no reports of damage or injuries.
Ziesenis is familiar with a more severe natural disaster event. She was in the former Kmart store at 3106 Iowa on June 19, 1981, when a tornado demolished part of the store and killed one person inside.
“I know what a tornado feels like because I live in Kansas,” she said. “I never thought I’d say I know what an earthquake or a tremor feels like because I live in Kansas.”