Facts About 5.8 Magnitude Virginia Earthquake August 23, 2011

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A 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit Virginia region in the U.S. on Tuesday at 1:51 p.m. (EDT), causing moderate tremors and several aftershocks across the U.S. East Coast.

According to United States Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake occurred at the epicenter in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone near Louisa and Mineral, about 100 miles southwest of Washington, DC.

“It was a shallow earthquake, and shaking was recorded all along the Appalachians, from Georgia to New England.”

The 5.8 magnitude Virginia earthquake is said to be almost as strong as the strongest recorded earthquake in the history of Virginia, a magnitude 5.9, which occurred in May 1897 in Giles County.

The strongest recorded earthquake to strike the East Coast was the 1886 Charleston, S.C., earthquake, which was about a magnitude 7.3, USGS said.

The 2011 August 23 Virginia earthquake occurred at a depth of 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) and at about 5 miles (8 kilometers) southwest of Mineral, 7 miles (11 kilometers) southeast of Louisa, 18 miles (29 kilometers) northeast of Columbia, 38 miles (61 kilometers) northwest of Richmond and 84 miles (135 kilometers) southwest of Washington.

USGS said that a magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake usually can be felt as far as 300 miles (500 kilometers) from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage as far away as 25 miles (40 kilometers).

That explains why the Virginia earthquake was felt widely across the eastern U.S., which is also on high alert for Irene hurricane, forecast to make a landfall in the east coast on Thursday.

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The Virginia August 23, 2011 Earthquake Location Map. Credit: USGS

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