Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A visit to the epicenter of Virginia's earthquake

I did make a gander down to the Mineral, VA area today to see what an East Coast 5.8 earthquake had done. It's a little bit shocking to any sense of complacence for those of us who don't live on the West Coast. 

On the way, in Culpeper, a two-story building had to be razed because it had cracked. 

Near Mineral, the Louisa County High School is closed and roped off  (that's my second picture on this posting, above), and a few buildings have obvious chimney or fa├žade damage. The students will have to use a middle school building and alternate days (with Saturday school).

The epicenter of the quake seemed to be about five miles south of Mineral, on a side road that connects VA 76 (a bike tour route) to US 522. The road goes through some gulches and bulges in the ground not associated with streams.    There was one spot where the shoulder of the road seemed to have sunk abruptly (I didn’t get the picture). There is a small natural ridge in the area that seems to correspond to the fault.

Some aftershocks have continued into this week. We cannot be sure that stronger quakes even in Virginia could not happen.  A severe quake occurred near Charleston, SC in the 18th Century. 

The area is on the west side of Lake Anna, not far from the nuclear power plant (April 6 posting). It's not that far from I-95, and only 40 miles NW of Richmond.

 On the other hand, it's only 30 miles to Culpeper, and the Blue Ridge is easily viewed from Culpeper. 

In December 1992, I  visited the New Madrid, MO area, and actually did feel a tremor while on the Kentucky side.

In Washington DC, it's pretty easy to see the damage to the sculptures atop one of the three towers (in the back in this picture which I took Tuesday) of the Washington Cathedral. The Episcopal church has no insurance for this damage and will need to raise funds for expensive repairs. 
Update: The Weather Channel reports that there was a 3.4 aftershock at around 5 AM Sept. 1.  I did not feel it in Arlington. 

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