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SANTA FE – Earthquake professionals attending an annual meeting here were not surprised to find their favorite subject leading national news reports around the country Friday morning.A magnitude 5.2 earthquake that struck southern Illinois at 4:37 MDT was felt throughout the region, but without much damage.“It always happens during these meetings,” said Susan Newman, executive director of the Seismological Society of America (SSA), as a three-day technical and scientific program drew to a close.The U.S. Geological Survey (http://earthquake. usgs.gov) put the tremor in proportion with a fact for the day: “It is estimated that there are 500,000 detectable earthquakes in the world each year. 100,000 of those can be felt, and 100 of them cause damage.”By Friday’s end, some 35,000 people in the Midwest availed themselves of the USGS’ “Did You Feel It?” site to record electronically their individual experiences of the earthquake. Their combined response quickly shaped a picture of a phenomenon that touched at least 15 states. Bill Ellsworth, a geophysicist with the USGS and President of SSA, said most people automatically associate earthquakes with California.
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