‘Tremors,’ ‘blasts’ in Bellefonte are the result of a geological event, police say

image to accompany breaking news
image to accompany breaking news

The Bellefonte Area School District and borough police are saying the United State Geological Survey is attributing the recent tremors and “blasts” felt in the Bellefonte area to “seismic activity.”

John Bellini, a geophysicist with the USGS confirmed that his office did pick up some activity near Bellefonte around noon Thursday, but it was too small to determine one way or another whether it was caused by an earthquake or quarry blast.

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The Pennsylvania State Seismic Network shows a 1.1 magnitude tectonic event taking place at about 2:30 p.m. somewhere behind the Centre County prison off Benner Pike.

Bellefonte borough Assistant Manager Don Holderman said people started calling his office to report feeling shakes at about 11:45 a.m. Thursday. When he and some people from his office went out to investigate, they also felt the tremors near the old armory building off East Bishop Street.

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Some people on social media said they felt the tremors shake the walls of their homes, and in some cases even knock pictures to the ground.

The Bellefonte Area School District responded to rumors that some schools were on lockdown by saying that although schools in the district have experienced “tremors and loud noises” that appear to be occurring in the vicinity of the middle and high school, “we are safe and continuing our school day as normal.”

Bellini said that he was first notified of the activity by a Pennsylvania Emergency Management official, who told him there are some collapsing mines in the Bellefonte area. Bellini said that could be the cause, but he couldn’t confirm.

Holderman said that to the best of his knowledge, no developers were blasting in the area on Thursday, and he spoke to officials at Graymont quarry in Pleasant Gap, and doesn’t believe the tremors stem from activity there.

A spokesperson for Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. in Pleasant Gap said they were not performing any activities Thursday that would’ve caused those events.

Bellefonte police acknowledged the heavy volume of phone calls they’ve been receiving, and cautioned the public not to call them, the schools or 911 about the tremors, as it ties up emergency lines.

“We will get the information out to the public as soon as we find out the real cause of the event,” police said in a Facebook post.