Tuesday Shaking

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook central Virginia on Tuesday afternoon. Here's the science behind what happened.

Many of us were caught off guard by Tuesday's earthquake that hit around 1:50 pm. The earthquake got its origin in Louisa County south of the town of Mineral, but the impacts were felt far away from the center. Even though earthquakes aren't too uncommon here in Virginia, earthquakes of this magnitude are. It registered a 5.8 magnitude, which is one of the strongest that Virginia has seen since the 5.9 magnitude earthquake that occurred in 1897! While central Virginia does sit in an active fault zone, most earthquakes are much lower in magnitude.

When an earthquake occurs, it's because there's some shifting of the Earth's tectonic plates below ground. The extent and magnitude of the shaking have to deal with exactly how strong the earthquake is, coupled with its depth below ground. This earthquake was relatively shallow and quite strong for this part of the country. For that reason, the energy from this earthquake was felt as far away as New York, Massachusetts, and North Carolina.

Damage in and around Charlottesville was relatively limited and minor. Closer to the epicenter of the earthquake, minor structural damage occurred and there were even reports of some building collapses. It's certainly a day that won't be soon forgotten here in central Virginia by everyone who experienced it.

What are your memories of the earthquake? Was there any damage in your area? What were you doing when it struck?

Here's hoping to some quiet times ahead,


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