The East Coast is buzzing after shaking. A magnitude 5-9 earthquake struck the East Coast, with its epicenter in a Louisa County, between Charlottesville and Richmond, Va. People felt shaking as far away as Upstate New York and beyond.
According to U.S. Geological Survey estimates of earthquake damage risk, this is one of the least-likely areas to experience a damaging earthquake, and as of this writing, it's unclear whether and how much damage was caused. (The map at right shows higher risk areas in pink and lower risk areas in blue and white.)
"The earthquake occurred in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone, which has produced earthquakes in the past. The most notable was an earthquake that occurred in 1875 that scientists believe was about a magnitude 4.5," according to USGS. "This earthquake is almost as strong as the strongest recorded earthquake in Virginia, a magnitude 5.9, which occurred in May 1897 in Giles County, Va. The strongest recorded earthquake to strike the East Coast was the 1886 Charleston, S.C., earthquake, which was about a magnitude 7.3."
USGS expects a low-risk of death from this earthquake, and a slightly higher risk of damage, but only near the epicenter. In other words, despite the widespread shaking (people living in 3,400 zip codes reported feeling it), the impact should be minor, according to USGS estimates.
A good thing, too. Dozens of U.S. nuclear reactors are in the zone that felt shaking from this earthquake, and many neighbors have been on edge since Japan's Fukushima Daiichi meltdown following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami there.
Intense shaking, though, wasn't likely outside the earthquake's epicenter. Here's a look at the USGS "shakemap" for the August 23, 2011 earthquake:
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