Within the past 48 hours, Virginia has been hit by two minor earthquakes. Though, the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed that both earthquakes were small enough that no damage was caused. Nonetheless, every time Virginia is hit with a quake, residents are reminded of the massive magnitude 5.8 that was registered in Mineral, Virginia, in Louisa County in 2011.
On Monday at approximately 2:20 a.m. EST, the USGS confirmed that a magnitude 2.3 earthquake struck near a small rural area near Boykins, Virginia. The town the located in Southampton County in the southeastern region of the state about 70 miles south of Richmond, the capital. The epicenter was measured to be 12 miles west-southwest of the town.
There have been no reports regarding damage or injuries in the area. However, such a small magnitude earthquake does not typically cause more than rattling windows for more than a few seconds.
On Saturday at 1:08 a.m. EST, a magnitude 2.2. earthquake was registered on the seismographs just six miles south of Louisa. The epicenter was measured to be around 39 miles northwest of Richmond. As of now, there have been no reports of damage in the area. Local authorities will continue to investigate the areas for possible hazards.
This area of central Virginia has been known for its increased seismic activity. Just four months ago, the eastern side of rural Charlottesville was hit by a 2.8 magnitude quake. Central Virginia has been shaken by over half a dozen small quakes within the past year. Geologists claim that the increase in seismic activity may have been caused by a new fault line created by the Mineral quake.
On August 23, 2011, the USGS measured a magnitude 5.8 tremor in Mineral, Virginia. This was one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded on the East Coast, and the largest in Virginia since the 1890’s. People were rocked by the quake from Georgia to the Canadian coast.
During the quake, eyewitnesses in Farmville, Virginia, stated they saw the ground under the asphalt moving up in down in some places. According to reports, some stated there was a loud “train-like” sound when the quake hit.
Further north there was extensive damage to the Washington Monument that led to a years-long structural rehab process after large visible cracks were seen on the outside of the monument. Damage in the small rural town of Mineral was estimated to be in the millions of dollars.
In the minutes after the quake, cell phone towers were overloaded with calls up and down the East Coast. In some areas, over an hour passed before cell phone reception was restored and emergency lines were up and working once more.
In the aftermath of the 2011 quake, the USGS release a report revealing that they located a new fault zone at the epicenter. Geologists named this the “Quail” fault zone. “Most of these aftershocks were in the Quail fault zone, and outlying clusters of shallow aftershocks helped researchers to identify and locate other active faults,” said the USGS in a statement.
Although the two earthquakes that hit Virginia over the weekend into Monday were minor, geologists state the increased seismic activity in Virginia could possibly be caused by the formation of the new Quail fault zone. Therefore, researchers from the USGS will continue to monitor the area for more potential seismic activity.
By Alex Lemieux
NBC News 4 Washington: 2 Minor Earthquakes Reported in Virginia in 2 Days
ABC 7 News WJLA: Earthquake reported in Virginia
Earthquaketrack.com: Recent Earthquake Near Virginia, United States
Inside Nova: Small earthquake recorded Saturday morning in Virginia
Photo Courtesy of Stephen Little’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License