The East Coast was rocked by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake at 1:52 p.m. on Tuesday, sending vibrations from as far south as North Carolina to as far north as Toronto.

The earthquake originated in Mineral, Va., an area between Richmond and Charlottesville, but its impact was felt all along the East Coast. Property damage was reported in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Md., and multiple major buildings in D.C. and New York were evacuated. In Manhattan, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels were closed.

The rocks are old and cold and they carry the seismic energy very far, Mike Blanpied, United States Geological Survey (USGS) associate coordinator for the earthquake hazards program, told The Washington Post. Even a magnitude six or less earthquake can be felt over a considerably large area, unlike California where the shaking is more concentrated.

Mineral is approximately 45 minutes away from capital Richmond, and the state capital experienced the earthquake's effects.

There was some shaking and you could feel the ground moving, Josh Archut, of Richmond, told IBTimes. We could see our speakers shaking. You could see them moving back and forth and you could see the whole building shaking. But nothing was damaged and we never lost communication. Some people got on Facebook right away and were able to post messages.

In Washington D.C., the U.S. Capitol building was forced to evacuate, as the city was hit by its strongest earthquake ever.

The nation's capital saw mild damage to some of its buildings, including the well-known National Cathedral church. CNN reported the Church experienced damage to its central pole, and a National Cathedral spokesman confirmed to The New York Times that at least three pinnacles on the central tower had broken off.

There was even speculation that the Washington Monument might have been affected by the earthquake, though a Yahoo News report and National Park Service story disputed that claim Tuesday afternoon.

After the earthquake, Virginia and the corresponding area experienced a 2.8 magnitude aftershock, according to the USGS. The East Coast earthquake hit within 24 hours of a 5.7-magnitude Colorado earthquake, though the USGS has stated there is no correlation between the two events.

The Washington, D.C., area and others experienced major phone communication issues, as residents took to Twitter to complain about lack of phone service. Washington D.C., along with other major cities like New York and Philadelphia, initially grounded planes after the earthquake, but most were able to get flights out after a short delay.

Neither President Barack Obama nor Vice President Joe Biden was in the nation's capital when the Virginia earthquake occurred. President Obama was on vacation in Martha's Vineyard, where ABC News reports he was golfing while the earthquake hit, while Biden was in Japan, ironically visiting areas that were hit by last year's earthquake and corresponding tsunami.

 

Update 4:40 p.m.: ABC News reports Barack Obama was golfing in Martha's Vineyard when earthquake hit

Update 4:09 p.m.: USGS reports Virginia experiences 2.8 magnitude aftershock and downgrades initial earthquake to a 5.8 magnitude

Update 3:55 p.m.: New York mayor Mike Bloomberg expected to give press conference one earthquake at 4 p.m.

Update 3:54 p.m. : Phillies game still on after no structural damage to Citizens Bank Park

Update 3:40 p.m.: Yahoo News' Chris Moody reports no tilting or structural damage to Washington Monument

Update 3:24 p.m.: Amtrak has said to expect delays, but no reported injuries

Update 3:18 p.m.: USGS says no correlation between Colorado and Virginia earthquakes

Update 3:08 p.m.: CNN is reporting Washington's National Cathedral's central tower has been damaged.

UPDATE 3:00 p.m: All major oil refineries, including ConocoPhillips and Hess, are reporting no damage to refineries

UPDATE 2:55 p.m: NY Governor Andrew Cuomo says no damage was done to Indian Point nuclear power plant, according to New York Daily News

UPDATE 2:51 p.m.: Commodities Exchange (COMEX) continued futures trading in New York post-earthquake

UPDATE 2:48 p.m.: U.S. FAA grounds flights in Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia airports

UPDATE 2:44 p.m.: The Associated Press reports that the two Virginia nuclear reactors were not affected by the earthquake

Update 2:40 p.m.: The Washington Post quotes a USGS official saying, We would certainly expect aftershocks. 

Initial Story:

A mild earthquake impacted the East Coast region in the early afternoon, notching a 5.9 magnitude earthquake between Richmond, Va., and Charlottesville, Va.

The epicenter of the earthquake was in Mineral, Va., less than 20 miles away from a nuclear reactor.

At approximately 1:52 p.m. EST, Americans from Raleigh to New York City felt a mild earthquake. Americans immediately took to Twitter to share concerns whether the mild shake that they felt was actually an earthquake.

The Pentagon evacuated its building, as well as other major buildings in the Washington, D.C. area. Fox reported that the Washington Monument may be tilting due to the earthquake, according to Katrina Trinko of the National Review.

The earthquake is the largest to ever hit the D.C. area, bettering a previous high of 3.6 in that area. The area was experiencing major issues with phone communications, as the area's systems were overwhelmed.

You felt it from the floor through the chair, and all the windows started rattling, Steve Lang, a retired AT&T manager who lives in Danville, Va., about 150 miles from the epicenter, told IBTimes.

There are an average of 1,300 earthquakes between the 5.0 and 5.9 magnitude, according to the USGS. There are several million earthquakes per year, of various magnitudes, according to that organization.

Some Twitter reactions by journalists:

Jim Brady, editor-in-chief of JRC:  Unreal. Biggest quake I've ever felt in D.C.

Kevin Van Valkenburg, Baltimore Sun sports reporter: So, earthquake in Maryland. Damn.

Chris Gayomali, reporter for Techland: WE SURVIVED. #earthquakegeddon2011

Patrick Stevens, Washington Times sports reporter: OK, so north to NYC, south to Raleigh, west to Columbus.