Earthquakes Rare in Maryland, Region
Where does Tuesday's quake stand in the record books? Why did the impact carry so far?
The earthquake felt throughout the East Coast on Tuesday was historically rare for Maryland, but not unprecedented.
The earthquake was the largest on the East Coast since 1944, the Associated Press reported. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the magnitude 5.8 temblor was centered 3.7 miles below Mineral, VA, and felt as far away as Atlanta and Toronto.
"The earthquake was felt so widely because it was a shallow earthquake, and geologic conditions in the eastern U.S. allow the effects of earthquakes to propagate and spread much more efficiently than in the western United States," the USGS said in a statement.
The statement went on the explain that west of the Rocky Mountains, the rocks are younger and can absorb more of a quake's force.
"In the eastern United States, on the other hand, the rock is far older, and so earthquakes can have a much larger and more widespread impact," the USGS said. "Earthquake energy can therefore spread farther and have a greater impact."
So, even though earthquakes on the East Coast are uncommon, people tend to feel them when they happen. Central Virginia lies over a seismic zone, and many quakes that strike there can be felt in Baltimore.
According to the USGS, the only quake on record to cause substantial damage on the East Coast happened in 1886, with a magnitude 7.3 earthquake near Charleston, SC. Marylanders felt roughly half of that force, according to the Maryland Geographical Survey.
Earthquakes centered in Maryland are even less common. A Maryland Geographical Survey report in 2002 showed 61 quakes since 1768. Nearly all of the quakes since 1993 have been centered in and around Columbia, and none have come close to the magnitude of the Tuesday quake.