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2011 Virginia Earthquake

5.8M Earthquake Strikes Virginia; "Moderate but Significant"

MCEER Director Andre Filiatrault briefs the media after a 5.8M earthquake struck in Virginia on August 23, 2011.

MCEER Director Andre Filiatrault briefs the media after a 5.8M earthquake struck in Virginia on August 23, 2011.

August 23, 2011 – A 5.8M earthquake struck about 5 miles southwest of Mineral, Virginia (38 miles northwest of Richmond, Virginia) on Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 1:51 p.m., affecting cities all along the eastern seaboard, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.1

Buildings throughout major metropolitan centers in the northeast were evacuated after the earthquake, and tremors were felt as far north as Concord, NH, and as far south as Hampstead, NC, according to The New York Times.2

Andre Filiatrault, PhD, Director of the University at Buffalo's MCEER (Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research), was available to discuss the earthquake with media in the UB Structural Earthquake Engineering and Simulation Laboratory on the University at Buffalo’s North Campus on Tuesday afternoon.

"The earthquake was moderate but significant because we haven't had very many earthquakes of this magnitude in the eastern United States or eastern Canada," Filiatrault said.

Because of this, the data set from the earthquake may be useful in generating improved seismic maps, which are used in building codes to design better buildings, he said.

Furthermore, Filiatrault explained that an East Coast earthquake is more widely felt than a West Coast earthquake due to the characteristics of the ground, which is more solid and contains a fewer number of seismic faults.

“The Earth's crust in eastern North America is very different from what you will find, for example, in California,” he said. “As a result of that, the waves travel much further.”

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