Earthquake Centered In Maryland; Felt In DC, Virginia

3:33 PM, Jul 16, 2010   |    comments
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GERMANTOWN, Md. (WUSA/AP) -- A 3.6 earthquake shook the Washington, DC region early Friday morning.  The US Geological Survey reports the epicenter was one mile SE of Germantown, Maryland, about 3.1 miles under the earth.  That's very close to the Roberto Clemente Middle School.

People as far away as Philadelphia, Pa. and Charlottesville, Va. reported feeling the tremor.  A few callers into WUSA tell us they knew instantly what they were feeling was an earthquake.  But most others say they thought the quake was an explosion, a large truck passing by, or a tornado. 

MARYLAND GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: Seismograph
FEMA: Earthquake risk by state
HISTORY OF EARTHQUAKES: In DC
HISTORY OF EARTHQUAKES: In Maryland
HISTORY OF EARTHQUAKES: In Virginia

Those closest to the epicenter tended to report the tremor lasting up to 15 seconds, while people further away felt the shaking for about half that time. 

Susan Potter, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey, said it was the strongest to hit within 30 miles of D.C. since they began keeping records in 1974.

Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center. Baldwin said aftershocks could occur over the next couple days, but none had yet been reported. He said the aftershocks are generally of a smaller magnitude than the initial earthquake.

Officials with the Montgomery County, Md. police department report no damage or injuries, but say their volume of calls shot up after the quake hit at 5:04am.  Many callers asked dispatchers what had happened. 

On the U.S. Geological Survey's website, more than 11,000 people by mid-morning reported feeling the quake, some from as far away as Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The agency said earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains can be felt over an area as much as 10 times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the West Coast.

According to Baldwin, the Washington area has had small, infrequent earthquakes over the years, including a 2.5-magnitude quake in 1997 that was within 25 to 30 miles of Friday's quake and a 2.3-magnitude quake in 1996 that was within 15 miles.

Maryland and D.C. officials say crews are inspecting bridges after a minor earthquake.

Maryland state highway administration spokesman David Buck said Friday morning that no damage had been found yet.

D.C. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Karyn LeBlanc said in an e-mail that crews in Washington were inspecting some of the older bridges, and developing a list of where to conduct more thorough evaluations.

Click here to see youtube video of the damage.


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