Abstract

A mine collapse in the city of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, that began on 21 February, 1954, was mistaken for an intensity VII earthquake and an intensity VI aftershock. Although the non-tectonic character of these events has been recognized before now, they continue to show up on lists of significant eastern U.S. earthquakes. The reports of the federal mine inspectors and consulting engineers, made at the time, provide convincing evidence of the true nature of these events. Their misidentification as earthquakes appears to have been due to a number of factors, including inaccurate media reports, an ambiguous statement by a seismologist, the false impression of uplift in the affected area, and a newspaper strike.

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