- Associated Press - Thursday, December 30, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A magnitude-3.8 earthquake shook parts of Indiana and four other states Thursday, prompting a wave of calls to local authorities from rattled residents.

The U.S. Geological Survey said on its website that the quake, which was about three miles deep, occurred at 7:55 a.m. EST and was centered about five miles south of Greentown in Howard County, about 15 miles east-southeast of Kokomo. The epicenter was about 50 miles north of Indianapolis.

The USGS said the quake, which lasted only a few seconds, was felt by people as far away as Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The quake initially was reported as magnitude 4.2, but the USGS later downgraded it. No damage was immediately reported, and geophysicist Randy Baldwin said he didn’t expect any.

Jo Ella Michael, 55, said she felt the quake as she was repairing Christmas ornaments on her kitchen table at her home near Arcanum in western Ohio.

“The house just kind of shook, like a great big truck went rolling by, and things on the countertop rattled really good,” Ms. Michael said. “I’m like, ‘OK — this isn’t right.’”

Howard County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Rogers said the department was bombarded by phone calls after the quake from people wondering whether there had been an explosion. He said some people reported hearing a loud boom.

Mr. Baldwin said such booms are fairly common during earthquakes.

Indiana University geologist Michael Hamburger told Indianapolis television station WTHR that the temblor occurred in an area “that’s seismically very quiet.”

Mr. Baldwin agreed that the quake was unusual. He said there are no known fault lines in the area where the quake was centered.

MR. Baldwin said two quakes were reported within 60 miles of the epicenter in years past, including a 3.8 quake in 2004 and a 3.0 quake in 1990.

“They can happen pretty much anywhere” where stresses build up in the earth’s crust, he said.

Associated Press writer Doug Whiteman in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.