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Earthquake Activity History of Virginia

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Activity in Virginia

Virginia is at a low level of earthquake risk. It is not as seismic as South Dakota or active as California. Virginia has experienced moderate earthquakes within its borders in the past as well as being affected by larger earthquakes in South Carolina with a magnitude of 6.6-6.9. Earthquake activity during the past several decades has been low but persistent. During the decade 1968-78, Virginia residents have felt the vibrations from 15 small shocks.

During the period 1774-1970, 128 Virginia earthquakes were cataloged. A scientist named G.A. Bollinger in 1975 did a thorough search of archival data sources (journals, diaries, newspapers, etc.) The result in a detailed listing of 100 of those shocks. The largest earthquake known to Virginia occurred in Giles County, Virginia on May 31, 1897. That shock was felt in portions of 12 states over an area of at least 280,000 square miles. Its maximum magnitude was 5.8.Structural damage occurred to some brick buildings, rock slides and landslides. One of the slides derailed a freight train. There was considerable fright among the people throughout the region but no reported injuries or deaths. Hundreds of people in Richmond and Norfolk left their homes in alarm. No major earthquakes have happened since that dark day in Giles County, Virginia.

Earthquakes in Virginia are a rare thing to occur. The mountains in Virginia are the only reason that quakes happen. As the mountains continue to slowly grow, the tectonic plates also slowly separate. In result causing small tremors across the lower land of the state. The large earthquakes that do occur happen when the underground rock suddenly breaks along its fault. There is no notable fault line in the state of Virginia. On the other hand, earthquakes can happen anywhere including Virginia. The underground fault line that the plates cover is what causes the events. The plates (like others) move back and forth causing the earth the crack and shake the land above. With so much mass above the fault line in Virginia, it is not often that noticeable earthquakes happen. The fault lines still shake the land and do damage. Once the damage gets serious, it then gets noticeable and cracks the upper land mass. It will take a 4.8 magnitude earthquake to show a noticeable crack in Virginia's land. Earthquakes can happen anywhere in Virginia, and no special magnitude makes the ground less dense.

Any earthquake that happens to a piece of land is nothing short of disastrous. Virginia is such a well put together land when it comes to be structural. The land is so thick that when a tremor occurs, it is un-feel able. The earthquake still happens, and many happen that most people do not know about. When an earthquake happens that cracks the land above, evacuation in defiantly needed. It will take a lot to break the land in Virginia do the density, so when an earthquake happens, look out!



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