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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Feel the Noise

EarthView students know that we pay quite a bit of attention to the Ring of Fire, a zone of tectonic activity encircling the Pacific Ocean. Most of the planet's earthquakes and volcanoes are found in the coastal areas that comprise this famous region.

As residents of a small, quiet town in Connecticut have learned, however, earthquakes can occur very far from the Pacific. A few miles north of the Atlantic coast, in fact, earthquakes turned out to be the answer to a mystery that perplexed the people of Moodus for centuries. Yes, centuries! Moodus is short for morehemoodus, a Wangunk term meaning “place of noises.”

 According to the radio story Thunder in the Valley, unusual noises emanating from the ground in Moodus have been attributed to many possible causes, but it was eventually ascertained that very low-intensity earthquakes were responsible.

The most severe earthquake observed in Connecticut was in neighboring East Haddam in 1791, and it did create fissures and dislocate large rocks in Moodus. The most recent temblor took place in 2011, when a magnitude 1.3 earthquake startled the town.

Geographers are always interested in the ways people express what is unique about their local regions, and Moodus offers a very nice example Sports teams at the Nathan Hale-Ray High School are not sharks, lions, tigers, or falcons. They are simply the Noises!

For a time, the sports teams at Flowing Wells High School near Tucson, Arizona had a similar name: they were named the Artesians for the flowing wells that occurred naturally in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains and encouraged human settlement there for centuries. Eventually, however, the Flowing Wells athletes took on a less unusual name.

Congratulations to the Moodus Noises for their strong sense of place!

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