“Highly unusual, once in a century” 5.8 Virginia earthquake leaves geologists puzzled

August 24, 2011VIRGINIA – The strong earthquake that rattled the eastern United States on Tuesday was highly unusual in its severity, though it was centered in a part of Virginia known for smaller quakes, seismologists said. The initial earthquake, which registered a magnitude of 5.9 just before 2 p.m. EDT, was felt from the Carolinas to New England. “One of this size is highly unusual,” said Karen Fisher, a professor of seismology at Brown University and president-elect of the seismology section at the American Geophysical Union. “This is the largest earthquake by far that I am aware of occurring there in recent history.” The quake’s epicenter in central Virginia is in an area the U.S. Geological Survey calls the Central Virginia Seismic Zone, Fisher said by phone from Providence, Rhode Island. While the strength of the quake was unusual, the wide spread of the shock waves was common for the East Coast, according to Peggy Hellweg, a research seismologist at the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory in California. This is largely due to the difference in the terrain, Hellweg said in a telephone interview. “Our ground is all of this chopped-up stuff … like a pile of marbles,” Hellweg said of California’s geology, which means that the waves from a quake don’t spread out all that far. In the Eastern United States, she said, “What you’ve got there is gorgeous bedrock and … the waves propagate beautifully.” Another difference between the East and West U.S. coasts is that the West Coast is over the boundary between two active tectonic plates, the North American and the Pacific, and the force of these plates sliding against each other generates quakes regularly, Fisher said. In the East, she said, “There’s no driving engine in terms of the two plates sliding past each other … so that’s why it’s much more unusual.” David Oppenheimer, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said aftershocks should be expected for months. “You’ll feel magnitude 3 earthquakes over great distances … I would expect tens of magnitude 3s for earthquakes of this size,” Oppenheimer said from Menlo Park, California. –Reuters
Dormant faults have started to awaken: The outer rocky shell of the Earth, known as the lithosphere, is colder on the East Coast than in California, which is well known for experiencing frequent earthquakes. “So when something shakes, it is like hitting a bar of steel, it rings pretty well. Whereas on the West Coast, the rocks are higher temperature and it is more like hitting something quite a bit softer,” he said. Lucy Jones, a USGS spokeswoman, said the West Coast crust is broken up by active faults so it “doesn’t do as good of a job of transmitting the energy.” “On the East Coast, you have this old, hard, cold crust that does a lovely job of transmitting the waves like a solid bell,” she said on CNN, so that an earthquake “can definitely be felt hundreds of miles away.” The U.S. East Coast has plenty of fault lines, but they are ancient, and are inside a creaky plate that is under pressure from being jostled and pushed by other plates, experts said. Occasionally, pressure builds up and stresses will be released in earthquakes, like the one on Tuesday. “They are faults that used to be very active faults hundreds of millions of years ago, unlike the faults on the West Coast… (that) are active today,” Jordan said. Jack Boatwright, a seismologist with USGS, told AFP that one aftershock of 2.8 magnitude was recorded in the hour following the quake. Other parts of the world that are similar to the US East Coast in terms of earthquake dynamics would include India, as well as some parts of Russia and Australia, he added. “In India, that large triangle is relatively old, so we think that it conducts energy similarly,” he said. Other differences between East and West Coast quakes are the sounds they make — residents of California are less likely to hear banging associated with a big quake unless they are very near the epicenter, he said. –Physics.org
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16 Responses to “Highly unusual, once in a century” 5.8 Virginia earthquake leaves geologists puzzled

  1. From what I understand, when the New Madrid quake happened, they felt it all the way to Washington DC and and it rang bells in Boston. The waves travel further here. When I felt this one, the first thing I thought was New Madrid.

    And a bit of humor for those who are here in the U.S.:
    “Seismologists have determined that the earthquake in Washington, DC was not caused from a fault line, but by the Founding Fathers turning over in their graves!”

    Be blessed and Maranatha


  2. nickk0 says:

    What I find even MORE significant than the VA.quake, is the fact that there were THREE different earthquakes in the US, on the same day. ( VA., CO., and HI.)

    I expect that seismologists will (normally) say that these three earthquakes, are on *different* plates and therefore, *not* related.
    However, I bet they are starting to wonder, themselves.

    – Nick


  3. Gen says:

    “but they are ancient”. puzzled. Hmm.


  4. What about the nuclear plants? CNN is reporting that 9 nuclear power plants have declared an unusual event and other sources tell two plants have closed down.
    “The nuclear meltdown in Japan didn’t happen because of the Tsunami as they first told us. The meltdown was caused by damage from the earthquake before the Tsunami hit. While it may have been a 9.0 earthquake out in the Pacific, it was only a 6.4 at the nuclear power plant itself.”
    Are there any news?


  5. Marshallrn says:

    I wonder if we really have no idea about why this quake hit in THIS location and we just have to wait to see what’s next in order to explain any of it. I’m done with the earth changes. Can we get on with it allready so we can start rebuilding a world for our children!? Peace and safety to ALL!


  6. lallemand nicolas says:

    mother nature just didn’t went to let DSK go back in france.


  7. radiogirl says:

    There’s that word puzzled again!


  8. Joey Kilroe-Smith & Martin Bode says:

    The earth crust in Virginia compared to the US Westcoast explains why there was such a ripple effect through the East Coast covering Washington DC, New York Massachusets even further North(-West) to Canada. What alerts my observations is that the earthquake happened in a least expected area and the explanation that Christ gave His disciples that during the end-time there would be earthquakes in diverse (or various) places. The frequency, variety and spread of earthquake locations as based on hard facts indicates that we are living in such a prophesied time. Would like to see your comments in this regard. Rays-of-Hope of a new World. coming!


    • J Guffey says:

      Joey Kilroe-Smith & Martin Bode – The term “no holds barred” comes to my mind when thinking about when and where a major event may happen. Bible prophecy is being fulfilled and none of us are immune from Earth changes and drastic society changes.

      Some skeptics are now realizing it’s time to quit playing games when it comes to one’s relationship with the Lord. God bless you.


    • Yes, there is a new world coming, however, before that happens, it’s going to get a lot worse in this one.

      Revelation 16:18 says “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” and Revelation 16:20 says “And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” And this isn’t the only thing we will be going on during the coming end times. What we’re seeing now is just a warm up, or what we call birth pains.

      Our Heavenly Father needs to clean up this planet from the mess and evil His children made before He gives us a new one. I am finding that even people who have never taken an interest in or believed in anything “religious” or “spiritual” are taking notice that something strange is going on. I pray that they find their way back to our Heavenly Father before it’s too late.

      Be blessed everyone and Maranatha


  9. Charlotte says:

    Thank you Irene! That is priceless!


  10. Cynic says:

    Can’t help but wonder of “fracking” has anything to do with it. I think it was the Hopi who said medding beneath Mother Earth would have poor consequences.


  11. idiotbox says:

    Yea, baffled by the bullcrap that is still flowing from the mouths of their handlers, will not a one of them not be man enough to speak the truth to save lives.


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