Bucks County Gas Station Explosion May Have Triggered Seismic Station at Temple University

A disturbance registered on a seismic detector in North Philadelphia, about 12 miles from the blast site.

The explosion at a Bucks County gas station Tuesday afternoon that killed one man and seriously injured another was so powerful that its energy waves may have triggered a seismic detector at Temple University.

The detector at the seismic station in North Philadelphia, which is owned and operated by Columbia University, picked up energy waves at 4:42 p.m.

A researcher at Penn State, Kyle Homman, who monitors the detector, said the waves would not have been perceptible to people at Temple University, which is roughly 12 miles from the explosion site at Liberty gas station on Bristol Pike.

But he says the blip on the detector would have been the energy waves passing through.

Researchers at Columbia confirmed that a disturbance registered on the detector. But they did not see it register at other stations in Bethlehem, West Chester, or Princeton, New Jersey.

Nearly 24 hours after the disaster, rescuers were still working to recover the body of Joe Vigilante from the blast hole, Bensalem police Director Fred Harran said Wednesday.

Vigilante is a co-owner of the Liberty Gas station where the explosion occurred as well as Vigilantes Enterprises, the attached auto shop. 

An explosion occurred in the area of an 8,000-gallon underground gas tank.

The tank is one of three underground storage tanks at the station. There is also another 8,000-tank and a 12,000-tank, according to records with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

It remains unclear what the two men were doing at the time of the explosion.

"Just looking out over at the gas station I saw the giant ball of flame come up higher than the awning," one witness, Robert Smith, said. "Something went up in the air and came down about ten seconds later." 

Homman also noted that the disturbance was not powerful enough to be measurable on the Richter Scale, the commonly used device for measuring the magnitude of an earthquake.

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