5.9 Earthquake in Virginia

Note: USGS upgraded to 5.9 from the 5.8 preliminary estimate

Between Richmond and Charlottesville (h/t Corey S)

More:

Magnitude 5.9
Date-Time
  • Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 17:51:03 UTC
  • Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 01:51:03 PM at epicenter
Location 37.975°N, 77.969°W
Depth 1 km (~0.6 mile) (poorly constrained)
Region VIRGINIA
Distances
  • 6 km (4 miles) SSE (152°) from Louisa, VA
  • 6 km (4 miles) SW (236°) from Mineral, VA
  • 26 km (16 miles) SE (133°) from Gordonsville, VA
  • 32 km (20 miles) E (79°) from Lake Monticello, VA
  • 66 km (41 miles) NW (318°) from Richmond, VA
  • 134 km (83 miles) SW (219°) from Washington, DC
Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 10.9 km (6.8 miles); depth +/- 7.4 km (4.6 miles)
Parameters NST=390, Nph=390, Dmin=57.9 km, Rmss=1.17 sec, Gp= 47°,

M-type=regional moment magnitude (Mw), Version=6

Source
  • Magnitude: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)

    Location: USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)

Event ID usc0005ild

If you felt it, you can report is here to USGS: Did You Feel It? – Report an earthquake

There’s an earthen dam near the epicenter, 1.7 miles away, I wonder how it fared:

 

202 thoughts on “5.9 Earthquake in Virginia

  1. Felt it in State College PA! First one for me, hopefully the last seeing as I’m in a 100 year old stone building. Not exactly earthquake proof!

  2. I felt it up here near the Straits of Mackinac on Northern Michigan. Computer monitor shook, floors/walls seemed to move. Standard stuff.

  3. Saying on FOX – 6.0 earth quake on the east coast is this it, same one or different?
    Bit confusing as I have one map saying Colorado had a 5.5 today though, or as well, so far, sure they’ll be more info soon. Minor damage reported, like windows breaking, seeing pictures of lots of people outside on the streets in some cities. Lets hope for no serious injuries or fatalities.

  4. There was also a very unusual Richter 5.3 earthquake last night (Monday, 22 Aug) in Colorado: USGS web record. This USGS page shows a map of the US with the Virginia and Colorado earthquakes plotted on it. Here’s the NYT story about it.

  5. The Colorado earthquake was last night, according to the NYT. Also strong for the area at 5.3, but I don’t think it caused much damaage as a long way from anything.

  6. Exit question: who will be the first to blame the earthquake on “natural gas fracking”? Or climate change?
    My vote goes to Paul Krugman at the NY Times who already has the editorial ready to go. Expect a Tweet from Andrew Revkin: “scientists are raising the alarm about the effects of fracking on seismic activity…”

  7. Felt it here in Virginia. People are calling the east coast pansies for freaking out about it, but here in VA we do NOT get earthquakes. I’ve never felt one before in my life until now. It wasn’t bad, but we were definitely wondering about the after effects. Idd, it hit as a 6.0 but surroundings area felt it at a 5.8.

  8. Felt it in greenville, sc but it wasn’t felt in seneca, sc which is about 50 miles west. Seems it ran the east coast both north and south a large distance.

  9. In Laurel MD…everyone cleared the buildings where I work. Being quite the EQ novice I was quite concerned. We all knew what it was but were thinking, Here!?!
    The floor sort of felt liquid and the cabinets were rattling. I don’t think I want to experience anything stronger than that unless I’m outside.
    MikeEE

  10. I think it was a planned quake by the UVA so they can claim to have lost all of Michael Mann’s emails and research /sarc

  11. Man, new release shows it was only 1km deep! No wonder it was felt so widely. It’ll be interesting to hear what casued this. I can’t remember anything this magnitude on the east coast.

  12. We live in Montpelier, just east of the epicenter. It was pretty exciting. Everything shook, lots of rattling dishes but no damage at our home. I can’t believe the over-reaction in DC and NYC.

  13. The missus said her office building in SE Michigan swayed. She also felt something last night, and I told her that it was probably an earthquake…

  14. Web-based news is often very, very fast.
    A few years ago, one reader on http://www.freerepublic.com wrote in that he had observed the shuttle breaking up, throwing strange contrails as it passed overhead of his office in Dallas. We read that story (live, worldwide) before NASA even knew the shuttle was in trouble back at the landing site – since they were not expecting any radio signals from it att the Cape until interference from the re-entry comm lockout was silenced several minutes later. Obviously, tragically, the astronauts were never heard from at all ….

  15. Felt it in Gordonsville Va. 16 miles from epicenter. Never felt one that strong before. Rare for this area.

  16. Don’t trust Fox sensationalist reporting … they’ll have it up to a 9 before they get real… oh how they love bogus headlines!!!

  17. Felt it here in St. Catharines about half an hour ago (say around 2:00). Very mild, but I could feel it, see the table lamp shaking, and hear things clinking in the pantry. I tried to report it on the site you linked to, but their list of cities for Ontario don’t include St. Catharines — or Windsor or Toronto for that matter.

  18. I was sitting in chair here in Everett, MA eating a late lunch and I felt nothing at all but many in Boston say they felt something. Is there some kind of geologic disconnect between here and Boston only 10 miles away or am I just .. “unfeeeeeling”?

  19. Didn’t feel it here half way between Ottawa, Montreal.
    We did feel one from Colorado about three years ago…shallow one as well, if I recall.
    We had a couple of small ones as well off the Laurentians ridge in the last couple of years, that we felt.
    One went on for about 30 secs. but wasn’t too violent.

  20. I’m up in Ottawa Canada and my wife and I felt it….gentle swaying back and forth.
    This area still rebounding from the last ice age.

  21. We need to start a pool – who will be the first news agency to carry a story attempting to blame this on /associate this with global warming?

  22. Felt it here in Norfolk, VA, but that’s a lot closer than others.
    Nate, my mother was from Sayer, PA. Spent a lot of time up there on vacation when I was a kid. Really liked it.

  23. Yea, people in San Fran would freak out if they suddenly got hit with 2 feet of snow and 15 degree temps. To each his own disaster.

  24. The epicenter was right below the North Anna Nuclear station. I have facebook messaged two friends who work there to see if the plants tripped. Cell phones are overwhelmed here in Richmond. My son works in DC and they just now got cleared to go back in their building

  25. This quake was very close to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in VA. Was there any damage to his home or the out-buildings?

  26. Fox news just reported that the nuclear units were taken offline. Did not say whether that was manual or automatic due to seismic sensors

  27. its random movements of the Earth’s crust
    nothing to see here, move along now……..”
    Sorry, but no.

  28. Can’t blame it on Global Warming… but could be blamed on melting ice caps…. all the weight of all that ice flowing off the arctic and antarctic as water could cause the earth’s mantle to “rebound” in its slow and deliberate way …. but we may need to see some more weight redistribution before that becomes truly significant.

  29. Ha.. Dark matter generated at LHC (CERN). Prove me wrong.
    Oh.. you can’t? You can not detect ‘dark matter’? .. lol

  30. Vicki W says:
    August 23, 2011 at 11:22 am
    We live in Montpelier, just east of the epicenter. It was pretty exciting. Everything shook, lots of rattling dishes but no damage at our home. I can’t believe the over-reaction in DC and NYC.
    =====
    Earthquakes can be a lot more exciting on the upper floors of an office tower than they are in open country or a single story wood frame building. BTW, just in case this is a precursor to something bigger, the media should probably warn people that milling around next to a skyscraper covered with glass not necessarily the optimum strategy for safely riding out an earthquake.

  31. At 1:55 in Dedham MA, just outside Boston, I felt the rocking for about 20 seconds. Very obvious that it was a quake.

  32. Allegation:
    Mike says:
    August 23, 2011 at 11:26 am
    “Don’t trust Fox sensationalist reporting … they’ll have it up to a 9 before they get real… oh how they love bogus headlines!!!”
    Fact:
    FOX NEWS
    Strong Quake Hits Capital Region,
    Sends Shockwaves Up East Coast
    URGENT: A strong magnitude 5.8 earthquake strikes Virginia, sending tremors up along the East Coast and causing the Capitol, the Pentagon and downtown D.C. to be evacuated.
    http://www.foxnews.com/

  33. That was cool! I’ve been in two earthquakes before: one (Maryland) was just a big Thump, nothing else, and in the other (San Diego) I was on a moving bus and so didn’t feel anything. It was great feeling the earth move up and down a half-inch or so for 5-6 seconds.
    My wife’s been in much more serious earthquakes that she says began like that, but just kept building. Perhaps not so fun.

  34. Felt it for 20 seconds in High Point, NC.. shook my whole house.. I went outside and my deck was vibrating.. went back in and it was still happening.. I knew then it was an earthquake!

  35. From MSNBC.Com
    “No tsunami warning was issued, but air and train traffic was disrupted across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic”
    LOL…LOL…and how would an inland earthquake ever cause a tsunami?

  36. Felt it in Greensboro, NC. Felt my chair moving underneath me and then saw liquid in bottles on shelves in my office sloshing around. Must have shaken for 20-30 seconds. This is the first earthquake that I have ever felt.

  37. I am about 30 miles SSW from the epicenter. It was moderate and seemed like it lasted for about 30 secs. No significant damage where I am located. But, there is a Nuclear Power Plant very close that I understand was taken offline as a precaution. I’ve not heard anything saying that there is damage or anything to worry about as a result of the quake. We are actually joking about the ‘devastation’. I may need to go home a re-arrange my deck furniture… LOL.

  38. “Brian says:
    August 23, 2011 at 11:46 am
    Why are you people sitting here making jokes. This is not normal.”
    Oh yes it is. Earthquakes anywhere is normal. But in some places they happen more often.

  39. Hmmm! Felt that earthquake all the way out here in Colorado Springs about 12 hours early. No, wait, that must have been a Colorado tremor. Anyway, bet you that some dufuss is quoted in the MSM before today’s end saying that these quakes are due to global warming.

  40. Felt in Hickory NC. Thought a train was going by but didn’t hear the train!
    Then realized it was the earthquake tremor!

  41. here in manhattan NY, i was in a 9th flr conference room of a 40 story building. It was so mild, it felt like swaying in the wind. pretty kool. Enjoyed it… except for the fire warden constantly getting on the PA system, giving ittitating non-news, every few minutes.

  42. Brian says:
    August 23, 2011 at 11:46 am
    > Why are you people sitting here making jokes. This is not normal.
    5.8 (5.9, whatever) is significant. I checked various sources, found a tongue in cheek post in Wall Street Journal blog, and decided there wasn’t too much destruction.
    This is not the first time a quake has shaken the Eastern Seaboard, and it won’t be the last. Instead of making jokes, what should we be doing, panicking?
    Wait until New Madrid slips next time, near St. Louis. Won’t be much joking that day.

  43. Ric Werme says:
    August 23, 2011 at 12:35 pm
    Actually Ric, the real joke may be on us here in New England if Irene’s path continues to inch eastward…

  44. felt an after shock here in raleigh, nc. even though you could barley feel it, it was pretty scary. i mean, we’re not near a fault line, right? i don’t know, between all these earthquakes and to top it off with the hurricane hitting the NC coast this weekend, im a little freaked out.

  45. Tony ,
    Are you associated with the Lawrenceville School ? If so , I ‘m pleased that someone there reads this blog – and a little surprised too .
    REPLY: No I’m not – Anthony

  46. Earthquakes occur on the east coast more than people know or think. The “big one” was due sometime in the next few years–so it just happened today in the afternoon. I am in Frederick MD and did not feel the quake as I was outside in a parking lot of a store. But my husban was inside our house. The house is very well built recently (an energy efficient structure of wood) and the house swayed a lot. No damage to the house.
    Charleston SC had a 7+ in 1886 that nearly destroyed the city. It was a long an old transform fault. Giles VA had a 5.7 in 1930’s (different fault). The Richmond basin has numerous small quakes. This big one doesn’t surprise me. But better them than me (my house is next to an old, old fault).

  47. Brian says:
    August 23, 2011 at 11:46 am
    > Why are you people sitting here making jokes. This is not normal.
    Yes, it is a normal human reaction to joke about something that could have been a disaster but wasn’t, or to cope with terrible events through which one has had to function. Medics, Fire Service folk, etc, tell awful jokes to release stress.
    Also, there was a degree of over reaction in places like Washington, that raises a wry smile given their over reaction to many things, including imagined problems like CAGW …

  48. CAN ANYONE SAY “FRACKING” JUST THINK ABOUT IT I KNOW ITS GOING ON IN VIRGINIA

    CAN ANYONE SAY “FRAkKING” AS IN FRAKKING IDIOT???

  49. I’ve lived in Virginia all my life and have felt many earthquakes. Not a big deal but this one really shook the house and knocked things off shelves, dressers and counters.

  50. Distinctly felt it in Columbus OH. But then I’m on the 4th floor (of a brick building), which may have amplified it somewhat. We had similar vibrations in our building from adjacent construction activity a few days ago, but without the sway.
    I like Docattheautopsy’s theory (11:05) that it was caused by the rapidly growing burden of the debt!

  51. Frank K. says:
    August 23, 2011 at 12:48 pm
    Ric Werme says:
    August 23, 2011 at 12:35 pm
    > Actually Ric, the real joke may be on us here in New England if Irene’s path continues to inch eastward…
    I have a daughter who lives in Maryland a ways south of DC. Pretty much where the NHC expects Irene Sunday AM. I posted a Facebook note that I might come down for a visit this weekend, then amended it to say I should have been down this afternoon. 🙂
    It will be an interesting weather weekend….

  52. My mom felt it 350 miles away in western NY state near Buffalo. Set a chandelier light on the front porch to swinging back & forth. Said it was only the second one she ever felt. Last one was in the 1940’s.
    Maybe the Mayan calendar running out in 2012 really does portend something…
    NAH!!! Couldn’t, could it?

  53. Dahlgren VA – Did not feel it 🙁 I was running on a treadmill at the time, and apparently kept on running without even noticing what was going on. I came back to work after my break to find my building evacuated. Fortunately, no damage to the house except for about a dozen wine glasses that had fallen off a shelf.

  54. africangenesis says:
    August 23, 2011 at 1:16 pm
    > The lastest revision has the depth at 0 km, what are the implications of that?
    Give the USGS more time to figure that out. The latest I saw was 6 km for the first quake (a reasonable depth) and 0 km for the aftershock. They may also refine the magnitude a bit.

  55. Didn’t feel it here in western Quebec
    As they are saying on Fox News. This earthquake hit the largest concentration of reporters in the US. Therefore it is a major earthquake.

  56. africangenesis says:
    “The lastest revision has the depth at 0 km, what are the implications of that?”
    The implications are staggering. A rising earthquake! First it was 4 miles deep, now it’s at ground level… headed for the troposphere, perhaps?
    This could be another fingerprint of global warming.☺
    [PS: Didn’t feel it in NorCal. Felt plenty of others over the years. Loma Prieta comes to mind.]

  57. Quadaffi strikes the pentagon with his earthquake machine. 🙂
    All quiet in Baltimore. I heard they had a little damage in one of the older neighborhoods, but, I live in a 100+ yr old building and didn’t have any damage. If you’ve ever seen those shows with an earthquake simulator, that’s exactly what it was like, but less so. I’m in a tall building, so, the lateral thrust really rocked the building. I heard the quake was very shallow (~.6 mi). Don’t know if that’s unusual for an east cost US quake.

  58. LOL…This is too funny…I know that earthquakes are not as common on the east coast, but c’mon….evacuate??? LOL!! Oh and about what Bryan said: Brian says:
    August 23, 2011 at 11:46 am
    > Why are you people sitting here making jokes. This is not normal.
    Wait until New Madrid slips next time, near St. Louis. Won’t be much joking that day.
    They’ve been talking about California sinking into the ocean forever; the big one is coming; etc. They can’t predict an earthquake, its size or where it happens. So I wouldn’t be surprised if New Madrid stays in tact for the next 100 years. Probably won’t see it in your lifetime.
    Just some words of advice to everyone out there….be prepared. Stock up on emergency supplies just in case. Whether its an earthquake, flood, hurricane, or whatever. It never is a bad thing to be prepared.

  59. Moliterno says:
    August 23, 2011 at 12:26 pm
    “DC should be evacuated for several weeks as a precaution against aftershocks”
    I’d rather that we simply quarantine it as a precaution against politicians.

  60. Random Movements of the Earth’s Crust?
    Lack of knowledge about the causation should not lead to a presupposition of randomness. If we had adequate knowledge of causation and ability to measure and monitor the forces which bring about earthquakes, we would be able to predict them. Reliable long range prediction would have quelled the panic and unnecessary disruption that is happening on the East coast right now. Out of chaos humanity builds constructs that bring order to civilization. Assigning randomness is not helpful. It’s about time geologists figure out a way to predict earthquakes. Scoring and plotting earthquakes doesn’t help.
    Sorry, I am a clinical social worker. So I have no models or measurements to contribute. . I help people and their families deal with the hardships of life.
    A year or so ago, we saw this wonderful gravitational variance map from the (GOCE) satellite. I know this blog is focused on climate so I am a bit outta line here. Yet I have not heard another word about it’s potential utility in predicting earthquakes. If anyone out there is away of any work on this please link me up.
    I have been reading this blog for several years. This is what I have learned as a lay person, the sun, earthquakes, the earth’s crust, volcanoes, the earth’s core, magma, the oceans and the atmosphere are all inexplicably joined together in the dance we call climate. I have no paradigmatic alliances and I am not an academic. I am just one of many regular folk who love this blog.
    Thanks
    Jeff

  61. I am from Richmond, but am at a meeting in Pittsburgh. There was rumbling and the light fixtures in the meeting room swayed and tinkled, the guy giving the presentation stopped. I thought it might be a train passing by. Then I got a call 3 minutes later from my daughter and wife in Richmond, she said they were OK but had felt a quake.
    BTW,
    “Moliterno says:
    August 23, 2011 at 11:31 am
    The epicenter was right below the North Anna Nuclear station.”
    ====================================================
    Moliterno, I hope you mean underneath North Anna on the map, not underneath the ground. The epicenter was just south and a little west of the town of Mineral, North Anna if a few miles to the north and east of Mineral, about 4 miles as the crow flies. The units were shut down safely. Funny thing, no tsunamis in Mineral, it’s a tad inland (maybe the folks in Germany sound realize that!).

  62. So that’s what that noise was.
    I’m up here in the Buffalo region. Didn’t feel a thing. But then, my apartment’s half below ground, so wouldn’t really feel something like that. But I did hear it. And here I was thinking the roofer had come over early and was unloading his truck. Then I finished reading my book, leaned back in my recliner, and took a nice little nap.
    That’s the second earthquake I’ve heard in the past several years.

  63. Felt the house tremble quickly a bit, back and forth,lasting about 6 seconds in total. and the overhead Chandelier began rocking steadily for about one minute in a North to South motion, at exactly 1:53pm EST, in Toms River,NJ 08757,

  64. Egad. I didn’t notice anything & I’m only ~150 miles from the center.
    Maybe it was the loose bottomland sediment here that damped it out locally. Yeah, that must be it.

  65. Anthony ,
    My question was directed to Tony who posted from Lawrenceville at 11:14 am . I have never addressed you as anything but Anthony . Sorry for the confusion .
    Pepper

  66. And I thought the only fault line in that part of the country was, “It’s somebody else’s fault!”

  67. I’ve felt that Washington, D.C. has been operating on shaky ground for a long time. Now we know!

  68. I lived almost 20 years in Southern California. Couple of quakes I experienced there you couldn’t walk while it was happening and lucky if you could remain standing. Never frightened me at all. Almost like a ride at Knott’s Berry Farm only I didn’t have to buy a ticket.
    Then I moved to Texas where there evidently aren’t earthquakes of any significance in anyone’s living memory. Tornados scare the crap out of me but Texas natives shrug off the watches and warnings like they’re nothing. In talking to the natives I discovered most of them are so fearful of earthquakes they don’t want to go to Disneyland in Anaheim for a vacay to say nothing of living there. I asked why. The answer is because with tornadoes you have time to either seek shelter or get in your car and get the hell out of dodge – but an earthquake you get no warning and you not only can’t drive away you can’t even walk to the nearest sturdy shelter.
    Interesting. I guess you must just become inured to the threats that you live with on a daily basis. But then again I’ve been in Texas for almost 20 years now and tornadic thunderstorms are still not things I take lightly when they’re passing overhead.

  69. Its funny that some people think that when ice melts, its weight when it turns into water is so much less than when it was ice.

  70. catsrevenge9 says:
    August 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm
    “Felt the house tremble quickly a bit, back and forth,lasting about 6 seconds in total. and the overhead Chandelier began rocking steadily for about one minute in a North to South motion, at exactly 1:53pm EST, in Toms River,NJ 08757,”
    Tom’s River! There’s a city name I haven’t heard in a long while. I went to meteorological equipment repair school for six months at NAS Lakehurst. Ate chow every day just about in the shadow of the blimp hanger near where the Hindenberg went down. That was in 1975. I was 18 years old. Used to party in Asbury Park bars where Bruce Springsteen hung out. Actually saw him play in some little dive one night. Met my first wife there too, a Tom’s River native.

  71. Here in Gwynedd Valley, PA the building I was working in swayed roughly east to west. At first I thought it was an inner-ear glitch, but then I noticed hanging things were swinging. Then I thought someone had hit the building with a truck. I’d always imagined an earthquake to involve more rapid oscillations … a quick shaking, but this felt more like being in a ship at sea. A quick IM exchange with my wife indicated that she, too felt it at her work five miles away. That’s when I checked the USGS web page and saw what hit Virginia. I haven’t seen any signs of damage, but my wife’s campus evacuated briefly.

  72. Power Grab says:
    August 23, 2011 at 11:39 am
    “That big one in NM was almost exactly 12 hours before the one in VA. Just sayin’…”
    Well said.
    While the sun in Trinidad, CO was on the deepest point under the earth and Neptune was high in the sky on the local meridian, in Mineral, VA, Neptune was on the deepest point under the earth and the Sun was high in the sky on the local meridian.
    http://volker-doormann.org/gif/quakes_23_8_2011.gif
    In 1951 J. H. Nelson from RCA has studied the planetary aspects fore a better forecast of shortwave propagation. The core of this stuff is that the terrestrial signal degradations are connected to sun flares which occurs when some planets take tide like heliocentric positions on the ecliptic (From this one can make climate forecast).
    But as it can be shown, in the same way such geocentric positions on the ecliptic are often connected to earthquakes. Moreover there seems to exist earth ‘resonance modes’ up to n = 36 as it was on the 11th of March 2011 in Japan.
    http://volker-doormann.org/images/mag9_11_3_11c.jpg
    http://volker-doormann.org/images/mag9_plan_dist.gif
    V.

  73. Lived on the south coast of Oregon for near 20 years. We Bolted our bookshelves to the wall
    as we did the china hutch. Never got used to to that. What finished it was living below the
    coffer dam in Coos Bay, and the city-at random would test the Dam breach and Tsunami
    sirens without much announcement.
    I will put up with Wildfire, Flooding and Snow of NE Oregon any time..
    (and a mile or so of Basalt rock underneath…)

  74. RACookPE1978 says:
    August 23, 2011 at 11:25 am

    You know that the ionization blackout hasn’t been an issue since we got a communications satellite cloud, right? Columbia was in contact with Mission Control right up to the time of breakup.

  75. I’m curious: since the Colorado earthquake happened early morning, were not the seismologists – and the government for that matter – suppose to inform larger populace about a possiblity of another earthquake within next say 24-48 hour period? I think that if Virginia tremor couldn’t have been predicted, the people might have been at least told about a possibility of it. What do you think?
    Also, can these abnormal earthquakes be linked to crude oil drilling? Perhaps drilling a bit deeper than usual. I wonder why…

  76. Citizens of Science! You will be interested to know that these events come on the eve of what we predicted at WeatherAction as the likely most serious Quake- Volcano period this month in our Earthquake-Volcano risk trial forecasts. I see the earthquakes in CO, VA etc as a “Prelude to a major Quake-Volcano (‘QV’) period Aug24-28”. See http://bit.ly/peih7b
    Thanks Piers C

  77. Brian says:
    August 23, 2011 at 11:46 am
    Why are you people sitting here making jokes. This is not normal.

    The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe recommends placing a paper bag over the head and getting drunk… I think… or was it lie down on the floor. Oh hell, do all three! Don’t forget the towel! Always have a towel handy. GK

  78. In Northern VA it shook for about 20 seconds. My office and the nearby buildings cleared out fast, within 5 minutes and I was (I think) the only person left at a desk, as I tried to post to the USGS “I Felt It” site. One guy came back and shouted “Why are you still here!” to which I said “It’s over,” which it was, and I recalled the two co-workers who were killed by the SFO quake about 15-20 years ago when a brick wall fell on them at the outdoors parking lot to which they had fled.
    There’s really no escaping fate, whether it’s a meteor, an earthquake, or <1C of climate change.

  79. I forgot to mention, in my office a large painting in the lobby was nudged about 15 degrees askew. I think that’s the total damage. When I arrived home tonight I noticed that one notebook had fallen to my desk from its normal perch. I know that’s nothing by California or Taiwan standards, but we Virginians have little experience with shaking floors and vibrating buildings.

  80. It’s the New Yorkers who should be most concerned. There is a splendid fault line which runs along 66th St in Manhatten. That’s fine – but I was told that the silly idiots laid the main utility lines into the city along the fault………

  81. From Alexandria VA, about 60 miles from the epicenter. I was in the grocery store checking out when it hit. Explosion or quake. Well, the sound was a frieght train, not an explosion and the air didn’t concuss. Ok, then, quake. People were just frozen in shock and I had to start pushing people toward the doors, far out into the parking lot. Lasted about 25-30 secs.
    When we all went back in, I finished checking out. On my way out, a woman said “I wonder if those storms (hurricane Irene) have anything to do with the quake.” I just stopped. “Storms? Quakes? NO.” She got defensive. “Wellll, you never know.” I said “Welllllll, yes you dooooo.”
    Gah.
    But you know what. Feeling the floor turn to liquid beneath your feet to the sound of a frieght train accompanied by shattering glass – extraordinary.

  82. I felt something in Southern New Hampshire at around two o’clock. I thought I was having a dizzy spell. Maybe I was having a dizzy spell, for my best guess would be that it was after two o’clock, and not 1:51.
    How much time does it take the shock waves to move from Virginia to New Hampshire?
    Earthquakes don’t bother me at all. But dizzy spells? They make me pester my doctor; poor fellow.

  83. Caleb says:
    August 23, 2011 at 4:22 pm
    Caleb – I’m in western New Hampshire and my wife felt it today while she was at work (at a meeting in a multistory building). For some reason, I didn’t feel it in my office (second floor office) and only found out about it on the internet…

  84. We felt it rather strongly in the Lehigh Valley (Eastern PA), much more strongly than I would have thought for a quake centered so far away.
    Lasted for 20-30 seconds…
    Here’s my stream of consciousness…what the heck? Truck going by? Nah..Are the cats playing?–no, they’re right here…lights are swaying; TV stand making creaking noises, mirror rocking on the wall where it’s hung. What are those bumps I’m feeling? Whoa–this is a freakin’ Earthquake! Should I go outside? Nah, seems to be calming down…maybe I should anyway? Aren’t you supposed to stand in a door jamb? Should I grab the cats and save ’em? Nah, it’s over.
    Was I imagining it? Check on the internet, live seismic sites…etc.

  85. Didn’t feel either quake in the hills northwest of Denver. Bet we don’t get much from Irene, either.

  86. Sorry to say – entirely normal. Earthquake took place in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone (Tarr and Wheeler 2006, USGS Open File Report 1017), likely a a west-directed reactivation of the border fault of the Triassic Taylorsville Basin. The depth (6 km, 3.7 mi, 20k feet) is a little overly deep for that fault in that area – so perhaps another detachment for the graben to the west…

  87. “Earthquakes can be a lot more exciting on the upper floors of an office tower than they are in open country or a single story wood frame building.”
    I was on the 27th floor in Arlington, VA (what was the USA Today building). The building is designed to flex and it flexed a lot, maybe about 10 times as much as the strongest wind gust that I have felt in that building. There was no noise except the venetian blinds banging against the window frames. In contrast, everyone I talked in a frame structure had rumbling, shaking, vibrating (lots of noise) and more violent motion.

  88. “One guy came back and shouted “Why are you still here!” to which I said “It’s over,” which it was,..’
    Our office building mostly cleared out and people milled around outside for an hour or two until the “experts” decided it was safe to go back. But in our meeting room we took a two minute break to guess the magnitude (we were all low) and then went back to the previous discussion.

  89. Well.
    It’s a tad embarrassing….. thinking I’m the center of the universe, that is. smile….
    Wow, I said to me. I think this is an earthquake! My Little Hill! My Little House! My Own Little Earthquake! (I’m surrounded by farmland, atop a hill in the Shenandoah Valley about 50 miles from the epicenter.) The house seemed to sway, undulate for about a minute. It didn’t shake, it *flowed*, then stopped.
    So.
    Believing I am the center of the universe, I immediately notified USGS. smile…. My little earthquake. I wanted them to know….
    (Actually, the USGS maps and they got more reports — eleven — from my area than the epicenter! )
    But, all’s fine. The dishes rattled, but no crystal broken.
    I’ve never felt one before. Since there’s no damage: kinda cool!
    But, a question: Here’s the USGS data. Some MSM reports say the quake was a half
    mile deep, others say it was 3.7 miles deep. The data seems to say both:
    Depth 1 km (~0.6 mile) (poorly constrained)
    Region VIRGINIA
    Distances
    6 km (4 miles) SSE (152°) from Louisa, VA
    6 km (4 miles) SW (236°) from Mineral, VA
    26 km (16 miles) SE (133°) from Gordonsville, VA
    32 km (20 miles) E (79°) from Lake Monticello, VA
    66 km (41 miles) NW (318°) from Richmond, VA
    134 km (83 miles) SW (219°) from Washington, DC
    Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 10.9 km (6.8 miles); depth +/- 7.4 km (4.6 miles)
    What’s the answer? …..Lady in Red

  90. I already checked, and this was well outside the Chesapeake Bay impact crater, by a few crater diameters. That makes this less related to that.

  91. Danny V. says:
    August 23, 2011 at 12:33 pm
    Felt it in Northern Ontario, Canada
    Where? I lived in Timmins in the early 80’s. Many miles on the bus since those days.

  92. I was on the 4th floor of a newly constructed office building In Anne Arundel county, Maryland. We–my coworkers and I–don’t think much of the construction. You can feel the floor flex as people walk past your desk! In fact the first few seconds of the quake people were confused, as the floor was shaking but no one was walking around. Then there was a more pronounced shock and many people started for the exit stairways.
    About 45 minutes after the fact, we received word that the Federal government agency which this office building is part of had given permission for non-essential personnel, including contractors, to go home. I’m a contractor, so I left.
    For those sneering at the over-reaction by the Federal government, people would have started leaving their offices anyway. The phone lines were completely choked; you could not get in contact with your family. People would have left to make sure their families were okay. Perhaps the Federal agency in question felt that they should simply bow to the inevitable.

  93. I live in the Williamstown area of Gloucester County, NJ. First the cat came down out of the window and started to meow. Then there was a shaking that turned into a swaying of our one story wood frame home. The swaying was like the house was built on rollers and someone was pushing and pulling in opposite directions. Found my body lagging the swaying of the room and realized it was time to get outside. The family had already come to the same conclusion and were out the front door as I came down the hallway. When we got outside most of the neighbors were also coming out into the streets. You could see the cars shaking in the driveways. Right after I made it outside the shaking stopped and none of our cell phones worked. There were plenty of bars, so I figure it was just that everyone tried to make phone calls all at the same time.
    I’d say it was very exciting, but also disconcerting. I definitely would not want to experience the size quakes that they have elsewhere. Haven’t felt any aftershocks yet. Hopefully it wasn’t a foreshock.

  94. I was at JFK waiting for my plane that was delayed whe I thought someone was shaking the bench I was on. After awhile the rest of the people on the bench started asking what was happening. Several minutes later there was an announcement that we could barely hear saying that they were investigating the terminal. At that point many of us got scared that there might be a bomb (in part because we weren’t sure what the announcement was). A few minutes later a woman told me that it was earthquake. Then many of us went online and were amazed to find out that it was in Virgina. Then it was announced that they were closing all gate and all flights. It was about an hour later that they resumed normal operations. Although I asked Jetblue did not give us free earthquake survival beer.

  95. Tom,
    Aftershocks are almost always smaller than the initial earthquake. I live in California, and the first thought that always goes through my mind when one starts is: how bad will this one be? The duration and magnitude are totally unpredictable based on the beginning of the tremor. But as for follow-up shocks? Pf-f-f-ft. They’re always a weak sister to the main earthquake.

  96. I was having sex at the time and thought I had rocked the world! Did I cause an earth quake? Could it have been the first attack of the aliens? This is absolutely shaking news.

  97. Five weeks in Tokyo and six months in Oakland, CA and never felt a thing even though I was “looking” for it (especially every time I was in the Caldecott Tunnel). I’m in northern VA 50 miles north of the epicenter and when it started I first thought that the Marines were firing their howitzers down at Quantico. When the rumbling and shaking didn’t stop after 5 seconds I knew it was an earthquake. And it kept going and going and going. And getting stronger and louder. When things started falling off my bookcases I decided to get out. All together it lasted at least 30 seconds.
    Many of my pictures were askew, things had fallen off my fireplace mantle, and my grill had danced to the edge of the deck. One of the more interesting things was that all of the dressers that were along a north/south wall had the drawers partially out. The others did not. Hmmmm.
    All in all it was a pretty unnerving experience. And to think the Loma Prieta was 10 times worse, and the Great East Japan Earthquake was…… Wow.

  98. Ironic, I lived for years all of roughly 15 miles from the epicenter towards Richmond, and still have that peice of land. Have to say it would have been interesting to feel the quake.
    Clearly, it’s Japan’s fault (pun intended) – their 9.0 in March just stressed out our entire continent, and a little steam had to be let off – ergo first Colorado, then Virginia. That or they were being helpful and just trying to pull a few kinks out of our continent. :0)
    Hotair.com had a little fun with it:
    Jokes at Washington’s Expense Emerge in Aftermath of Today’s Earthquake
    posted at 8:47 pm on August 23, 2011 by Howard Portnoy
    Luckily, the earthquake that rattled windows and jangled nerves throughout the northeast part of the nation today did little beyond that. Some buildings in DC sustained minor damage, among them Reagan International Airport, which lost a few ceramic ceiling tiles, and National Cathedral, which experienced cracks in its masonry. None of the damage was severe enough to be costly or beyond repair.
    The bruised egos of Washingtonians, and especially its political class, is another story, at least for those too thin-skinned to take some good-natured ribbing. Much of the comedic gestures were broadcast via Twitter. Here are several (h/t Washington Examiner):
    @TPCarney: Krugman says it wasn’t big enough.
    @comradescott: Evidently the quake occurred on a little known fault line outside of DC called ‘Bush’s Fault.’
    @calebhowe: Breaking: Obama administration points out they ‘inherited’ fault lines from previous administrations.
    @MaizeBlueNation: Fox News claims the Washington monument is leaning to the right, MSNBC claims it’s leaning to the left. More news at 11.
    @charliespiering: I won’t stop shaking until Obama makes a speech telling me that everything is ok and that he has a plan.
    @Ben_Howe: As all of DC leaves work at the same time, the United States experiences a brief economic recovery.
    @daveweigel: Was all set to loot in Dupont circle, then realized all we have are taco and cupcake stores.
    @BrianHughes: I wish I owned a bar in D.C. right now.
    @JimPethokoukis Shot: Virginia Earthquake Chaser: Hurricane Irene
    @politicoroger POLITICO had the earthquake story yesterday.
    Charles Babbington of Associated Press offers a few more, minus attributions.
    S&P has downgraded earthquake to a 2.0.
    Rick Perry denies earthquake.
    Michele Bachmann vows to bring all U.S. earthquakes down to a 2.9 magnitude.
    There was just a 5.9 earthquake in Washington. Obama wanted it to be 3.4, but the Republicans wanted 5.9, so he compromised.
    Not all of the barbs came from Twitter. The Wall Street Journal, noting that the quake reached Martha’s Vineyard, where President Obama was in the process of putting, wondered if “the temblor caused his ball to fall from the lip into the cup and help him win the hole, a la ‘Caddyshack.’”
    Considering the kind of luck the president has been having lately, I’d be inclined to doubt it.

  99. The USGS has investigated the cause of the Virginia earthquake (5.9 on the scale) and concluded the Earth had a sudden but very local uplifting due to a large weight or mass being removed. Upon further investigation, it was learned that all the gold in Fort Knox is gone – as the USA had to use it to pay some of its debt to China. (sarc off now)

  100. “The USGS has investigated the cause of the Virginia earthquake (5.9 on the scale) and concluded…
    nearby strip mining in WV and frackin in PA… /sarc

  101. We experienced the enormous 1964 Alaska Quake that sank Anchorage to an underground river, washed Oregon campers off the beaches, devastated Japanese fishing villages several thousand miles to the southwest. But since the Aleutian Chain curves in an arc that separates Bering Strait from the North Pacific, USAFSS sensor sites on Adak, Shemya et al. saw not even a high tide.
    Abode in Shrewsbury, NJ, on the North Jersey Shore, rattled blinds and definitely swayed. Grabbed my flash-stick memory containing the Secrets of the Universe and hastened out, but after half a minute all was well.
    New Madrid, thou shouldst be living at this hour!

  102. An economy does not create wealth by repairing damage. It is the continuous dynamic of all commodities being marketed back and forth and also used to make other things or do other constructive activities that generates wealth. The Broken WIndow Economy does not work.

  103. John Blake says:
    August 23, 2011 at 8:17 pm
    We experienced the enormous 1964 Alaska Quake that sank Anchorage to an underground river, washed Oregon campers off the beaches, devastated Japanese fishing villages several thousand miles to the southwest. But since the Aleutian Chain curves in an arc that separates Bering Strait from the North Pacific, USAFSS sensor sites on Adak, Shemya et al. saw not even a high tide.
    Abode in Shrewsbury, NJ, on the North Jersey Shore, rattled blinds and definitely swayed. Grabbed my flash-stick memory containing the Secrets of the Universe and hastened out, but after half a minute all was well.
    New Madrid, thou shouldst be living at this hour!
    ===============================
    Yeah but what you don’t take into account is the geology of the eastern US and the potential damage from such a mildly moderate quake over such a large area on soft sediments.
    The sixth largest cathedral in the world sustained significant damage.
    http://hamptonroads.com/2011/08/quake-damages-three-pinnacles-national-cathedral
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  104. We were about due. Since no one was hurt and there was hardly any damage, I think that it’s kind of cool! Of all the weird things that happen in Philly, I sure never thought that an earthquake would be one of them, although I knew that it was possible. Still nowhere close to the weirdest thing to happen in Philly. 😉

  105. Scientists have determined the earthquake affecting Washington, D.C. today was caused by all the Founding Fathers simultaneously rolling over in their graves.

  106. Not to make light of the situation, but some people on this blog have suggested that the additional weight of the water from the melting arctic ice cap is responsible.
    The weight was already there in the ice.
    I’m in Birmingham, Alabama. Just for the record, I felt nothing here.

  107. Virginia has had 3 quakes since 1851Z last night. That one at 5.8 and very shallow so it would have shaken a lot plus a 3 and 3.2 since in about the same place. Probably an old fault playing up.

  108. Paul Krugman doesn’t have a Google+ account – it’s a fake. This is Krugman’s actual view:
    “Meanwhile, natural disasters in America don’t lead to big public spending increases — look at how pitiful the aid post-Katrina was. If you think I believe that disaster is good for its own sake, you have drunk the Kool-aid”.

  109. Earth had a synod conjunction with Neptune on the 22nd the Moon is maximum North on the 23rd, Irene has passed TS strength as a result of the Neptune conjunction, and is making the turn to the North, associated with the Lunar maximum North position.
    This is the same timing as when Katrina made landfall, correlation is not causation unless it causes things to be predictable like this.

  110. I think the earthquake activity is more the result of the CMEs and solar flares we had as a result of the planetary conjunction with Neptune. Which would explain why we often have strong hurricanes and surges in quake activity together.

  111. This shows the fallacy of the Keynesian belief that “any spending is the same as any other spending.” In this case, and in most of the spending by Obama during the stimulus giveaway,
    money was spent on things that produced no benefit for the economy. Obama’s dopey claim that unemployment insurance was a good way to stimulate the economy is a case in point – paying people and getting zero in return. No increase in our country’s value or wealth, no nothing. Other spending was for goods and services not desired by the general public. When the spending stopped, so did the jobs. Govt spending is very ineffective in replicating spending by consumers, which is one reason it fails so miserably and why Keynes’s assumption that “spending is spending, regardless” is incorrect and invalidated his theory.

  112. Felt it up here in Norfolk, VA. okay so for all you californians, we dont get these very often so back off! you dont take on snowstorms in 10 degree weather. although its total bs. cause if your get an inch of snow its like the world ended for them here. and you dont ge hurricans. we got lovely irene coming our way. so if you would like come visit. lets see how fast you guys take off running and crying. also i want to point out know blamed 2012 yet. haha. you would think thats what would be going through peoples minds but its not. 2012 technically happened in 2008 cause we didnt count four years so we are behind numerically wise to the myan calender.

  113. These two larger quakes are unrelated but I must advise that the West Coast of the US and Canada is likely to get a larger quake sometime within the next 18 months. Some of this is a natural stress response from the Earth, some of it is ahead of polar tilt activity, and some is manipulated. We also should be watching a lot of these quiet problems with nuclear facilities right now that are happening almost everywhere.

  114. Tessa says:
    August 24, 2011 at 9:53 am
    Felt it up here in Norfolk, VA. okay so for all you californians, we dont get these very often so back off! you dont take on snowstorms in 10 degree weather.

    You should see them freak when they get a rain shower!

  115. A couple of thoughts on disaster preparedness….
    I live just southeast of Seattle. We are blessed with lots of tall trees that fall down in winter storms and knock the power out. In addition, we have occasional earthquakes and other natural events that cause power interruptions. During these events, the cellular phone system becomes overloaded and unusable. Most of the ‘cordless’ home and work phones fail as well, because they require continuous AC power. This where a long distance relative or friend and an ‘old’ telephone that requires no AC power can serve you well.
    I have an ‘old’ telephone, that requires no other power than what is supplied directly from the phone line, stored in the closet for these occasions. After the Nisqually earthquake of 2001, all of the ‘modern’ communications failed but, after jacking the ‘old’ telephone into the phone wall jack, a dial tone was available. The local service was overloaded but long distance was available. I called my sister in Wisconsin, to let her know that I was OK and to ask if she had heard from our brother who lives on Whidbey Island, NW of Seattle. He had already called her and his family was likewise OK. We could have convened a 3-way call, if direct communications had been needed! Communication and reassurance were achieved in a timely fashion, without adding to the ‘jamming’ of the local communications net.
    Most local phone lines are buried underground, making them less susceptible to interruption during storms and natural disasters. An ‘old’ phone and a friend a few states away can be an effective backup emergency communications plan for family and friends in your local area!

  116. Tessa says:
    August 24, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Felt it up here in Norfolk, VA. okay so for all you californians, we dont get these very often so back off!

    That’s not the way to describe this to Californians. I felt it in Nashua NH, it was really weak, but several other coworkers also noticed it. That’s over 500 miles from the epicenter. San Francisco to San Diego is a little bit less.
    How strong would a earthquake in the Bay area have to be to be felt in San Diego?

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