2011 Virginia earthquake

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2011 Virginia earthquake
Shake map showing the epicenter of the earthquake in Virginia
2011 Virginia earthquake is located in the United States
2011 Virginia earthquake
UTC time2011-08-23 17:51:04
ISC event17331323
Local dateAugust 23, 2011
Local time1:51:04 pm EDT
Magnitude5.8 Mw
Depth6 km (4 mi)
Epicenter37°56′10″N 77°55′59″W / 37.936°N 77.933°W / 37.936; -77.933Coordinates: 37°56′10″N 77°55′59″W / 37.936°N 77.933°W / 37.936; -77.933
TypeDip-slip (reverse)
Areas affectedCanada, United States
Max. intensityVII (Very strong)[1]
Peak acceleration0.26g

The 2011 Virginia earthquake was a magnitude 5.8 (Mw) earthquake in the U.S. state of Virginia on August 23, 2011, at 1:51 PM EDT (17:51 UTC). The focus was 60 kilometres (37 mi) northwest of Richmond and 8 kilometres (5 mi) from the town of Mineral, Virginia.[2] The earthquake was along the Spotsylvania Fault, an ancient fault line that now sits in the middle of the North American plate.[3] Four aftershocks happened within twelve hours of the main earthquake. The aftershocks had magnitudes 2.8, 2.2, 4.2 and 3.4.[4][5][6][7] About 35 hours after the main earthquake, a sixth aftershock of magnitude 4.5 occurred.[8] As of August 30, there have been 19 aftershocks, most of them minor.[9]

There are very few strong earthquakes east of the Rockies in the U.S. This was only the second magnitude 5.8 in the last last 114 years. The other was the 1944 quake on the New York-Ontario border.[10][11]

Impact[change | change source]

Press reports show that the earthquake could be felt a long distance away from its center. To the south, the earthquake reached Atlanta, Georgia;[12] and to the north, the earthquake reached Quebec City, Quebec.[13] To the west, the earthquake reached Illinois[14] and to the east, the earthquake reached Fredericton, New Brunswick.[15] Damage was reported as far away as Burlington, New Jersey.[16]

United States[change | change source]

The Pentagon was evacuated moments after a 5.8 earthquake was felt throughout the East Coast of the United States.

Many buildings in the eastern United States are not built strongly enough that earthquakes cannot damage them. In Washington, D.C., the White House,[17] the Capitol building and other buildings were evacuated. In Arlington County, Virginia, a pipe in the Pentagon broke. The pipe flooded two corridors. The Pentagon used an emergency plan put into place after the September 11 attacks to evacuate.[18] Other buildings were evacuated in Philadelphia, Boston and New York City.[19][20][21][22]

Soon after the earthquake, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered airplanes to stop flying along the East Coast. The Air Traffic Control tower at John F. Kennedy International Airport was evacuated. Flights were late at several airports, including John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Dulles International Airport, and Philadelphia International Airport.[23] At the National Airport, ceiling tiles in the airport terminal fell to the ground, and flights stopped.[24][25][26] Washington Metro trains were delayed and run at reduced speeds of 15 miles per hour. This allowed engineers to see if the rails were damaged.[27] Just after the earthquake, many people made cell phone calls. This tied up the AT&T and Verizon Wireless networks. People could not start phone calls for at least 20 minutes.[28]

Buildings in the Washington, D.C. area were damaged, but not severely. The quake damaged three of the Washington National Cathedral's four pinnacles (corner spires) and cracked some of the Episcopal church's flying buttresses. However, buttresses that support the central tower, a prominent part of the city skyline, look normal.[29][30] The National Park Service found cracks near the top of the Washington Monument. The monument is closed indefinitely.[31] The earthquake knocked off four of the six spires atop the Washington D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The pieces fell to the ground along with several pieces of marble from the temple's outside wall.[32]

The two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Nuclear Generating Station, 11 miles (18 km) from the epicenter, shut down automatically.[33]

Damage in the northeastern United States was minor. In New York state, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the State Office of Emergency Management had no reports of damage to buildings or infrastructure. There were some disruptions, including building evacuations and delays at airports. Amtrak trains arriving and departing from Penn Station were also delayed.[34]

In New Jersey, the state Emergency Management office reported two gas leaks in Gloucester County, with no reports of injuries from either leak. Buildings such a the Temple B'nai Israel in Burlington and a home in Camden were damaged. Government buildings were evacuated, and city workers could go home.[16]

In Boston, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency reported no injuries or damage. The U.S. District Court in South Boston was evacuated and the University of Massachusetts Boston cut summer classes short and sent all workers home early.

In West Virginia, the Kanawha County Courthouse, the West Virginia State Capitol campus, and several other buildings in downtown Charleston were evacuated. Kanawha County dispatchers received more than 350 calls in 45 minutes but there were no reports of damage to buildings and infrastructure other than minor plaster cracking in the old courthouse. Part of a chimney collapsed at the county courthouse in Philippi in Barbour County. The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training stated that West Virginia coal mines were safe following the tremors.[35][36]

In Delaware, the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington and Family Court in Georgetown were evacuated. The press said that blocks fell to the street from the steeple of St. Thomas the Apostle Church. DelDOT crews were sent to all parts of the state to inspect many bridges and roadways including interstate highways and the Indian River Inlet Bridge.[37]

In Pennsylvania, people were told to get out of office buildings in Philadelphia.[38] People were also told to get out of the Bucks County Courthouse in Doylestown.[39] Also, SEPTA Regional Rail trains could only go 25 miles per hour (40 km/h) while tracks were checked for damage and PATCO Speedline trains were also stopped for a short time even though there was no damage. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation checked bridges for damage. There was no damage to the bridges over the Delaware River owned by the Delaware River Port Authority.[40]

Canada[change | change source]

People in eastern Canada also felt the earthquake, mostly in Southern Ontario, as well as parts of Quebec and the Maritimes. A few buildings in Toronto were evacuated.[41][42] No accidents or damage from the earthquake were reported in Canada.[43]

Social media[change | change source]

According to Facebook, the word "earthquake" appeared in the status updates of 3 million users within four minutes of the quake. Twitter said users were sending up to 5,500 tweets per second. This rate of messages was faster than during the death of Osama bin Laden. It was almost the same rate as the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[28]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Pager– M 5.8– Virginia". United States Geological Survey. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  2. "Earthquake strikes US east coast, felt all the way down in Orlando, FL reported by KCNSEN". BBC. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  3. "5.9 earthquake in central Virginia felt across East Coast". Hamptonroads.com. Retrieved 23 August 2011.[permanent dead link]
  4. "Magnitude 2.8 – Virginia". Earthquake.usgs.gov. 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2011-08-23.[permanent dead link]
  5. "Magnitude 2.2 – Virginia". United States Geological Survey. 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  6. "Magnitude 4.2 – Virgnia". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved August 24, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  7. "Earthquake, aftershocks rattle Northern Virginia". insidenova.com. 24 August 2011.[permanent dead link]
  8. "Magnitude 4.5 - VIRGINIA". Earthquake.usgs.gov. 2011-08-25. Retrieved 2011-08-25.[permanent dead link]
  9. Weil, Martin (2011-08-30). "Earthquake aftershocks roll on". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-08-30.
  10. "Largest Earthquakes by State, List of Earthquakes". USGS. Archived from the original on December 28, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  11. "Historic United States Earthquakes Sorted by State & Date". USGS. Archived from the original on December 11, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  12. "Mag 5.8 earthquake felt in Metro Atlanta". 11 Alive HD. 23 August 2011. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  13. "Need to know". Macleans.ca. 2008-06-20. Archived from the original on 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  14. "Illinois residents may have felt Virginia quake". chicagotribune.com. 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  15. Lee-Anne Goodman, The Canadian Press (2011-08-23). "Earthquake rattles parts of U.S. East Coast and Canada; no serious injuries". Global Toronto. Retrieved 2011-08-23.[permanent dead link]
  16. 16.0 16.1 Joshua Adam Hicks, "Mostly unscathed in New Jersey Archived 2011-08-24 at the Wayback Machine" (August 23, 2011). Philadelphia Inquirer.
  17. Harris, Paul (2011-08-24). "US earthquake leads to evacuation of White House". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
  18. "D.C. monuments 'stable' after 5.9 magnitude quake, official says".
  19. "5.8 earthquake hits Virginia, rattles NYC, east coast". ABC News. 23 August 2011. Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  20. "5.8-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes East Coast". The New York Times. August 23, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  21. "Delaware Valley Rattled By Earthquake". CBS News. August 23, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  22. Merrill, Kate (2011-08-23). "Boston-Area Buildings Evacuated After Earthquake". boston.cbslocal.com. CBS Local Media. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
  23. "5.8 magnitude quake rocks East Coast". USA Today. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  24. "Earthquake shakes Washington".
  25. "Earthquake reported along the East Coast". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  26. "Quake rocks Washington area, felt on East Coast".[permanent dead link]
  27. "Metro Earthquake Update 2".[permanent dead link]
  28. 28.0 28.1 Kang, Cecilia (23 August 2011). "Facebook, Twitter report record earthquake messages". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  29. "D.C. National Cathedral Damaged, official says". Archived from the original on 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
  30. Dan Gilgoff. "National Cathedral damaged in earthquake" (August 23, 2011). CNN.
  31. "Park service: Earthquake cracks Washington Monument near its top, closed indefinitely". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 24, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  32. "East Coast quake damages people's nerves and temple spires". KSL-TV. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  33. "5.9 earthquake rocks Virginia, other parts of East Coast". Richmond Times-Dispatch. 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2011-08-23.[permanent dead link]
  34. "NY gets tremors but no damage from quake in Va. damage" (August 23, 2011). Associated Press.
  35. Staff reports, "Earthquake in Virginia felt throughout W.Va. Archived 2012-08-20 at the Wayback Machine" (August 23, 2011). Charleston Gazette.
  36. Taylor Kuykendall Kuykendall, "Southern West Virginia shakes from quake" (August 23, 2011), Register-Herald Reporter.
  37. Quake rocks region, buildings evacuated"[permanent dead link] (August 23, 2011). delawareonline.com.
  38. Adler, Danny and Laurie Mason Schroeder (August 24, 2011). "Residenrs: Temblor 'bizarre' and 'scary'". The Intelligencer.
  39. Weckselblatt, Gary (August 24, 2011). "Bucks courthouse evacuated after quake strikes". The Intelligencer.
  40. Ciavaglia, Jo and Danny Adler (August 24, 2011). "Bucks, Montco rumbles". The Intelligencer.
  41. "Strong earthquake hits Canada, U.S. East Coast". Vancouver Sun. August 23, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  42. "5.8 earthquake rattles Canada, eastern U.S." CBC News. August 23, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  43. "Virginia earthquake felt across eastern Canada". Toronto.ctv.ca. 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2011-08-23.