Ice quake near Brainerd? 'It just looks like a bomb went off underground'

Publish date:

"It just looks like a bomb went off underground."

That's how Brainerd resident Jodi Schwen described the damage near her Gull Lake home following what might have been a ice quake, the Brainerd Dispatch reports.

Ice quake? They're real and extremely rare – but they do happen.

The earth-shaking moment occurred Jan. 13. But it wasn't an earthquake; a U.S. Geological Survey from the day showed no seismic activity in the area.

A meteorologist explained to the Brainerd Dispatch that ice quakes can come with loud cracking noises and ground displacement. Both symptoms were present near the Schwen residence, where a sidewalk was destroyed and a local beach, normally flat, turned lumpy.

The scientific term for ice quakes is cryoseisms. A publication called io9 says they are terrifying and typically happen following dramatic swings in the temperature. The thermometer in the Brainerd area just before the trembler ranged from around 20 degrees to 20 below zero.

Officials, though, can't say for sure this case was the result of an ice quake. Ice pushing onto the shore also could have caused the damage.

Ice quakes were common in Wisconsin last year. The Daily Mail has details on an ice quake creating a 100-foot crack in one family's driveway and a loud boom that made another homeowner think his pipes had burst.

In May of 2013, an ice-out on Mille Lacs Lake pushed ice chunks onto the shore and into homes. The video is incredible.

Next Up