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East Coast Shakes from Va.-Centered Earthquake
satellite image of Virginia This MODIS image from NASA's Terra satellite, captured Nov. 7, 2004, has been annotated with information related to the Aug. 23, 2011, earthquake. That quake's epicenter was outside Mineral, Va. (Credit: NASA Goddard/MODIS Rapid Response)
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The U.S. East Coast shook from an unusually strong earthquake for the area on Aug. 23, 2011, centered near Mineral, Va., about 40 miles from Richmond.

The U.S. Geological Survey rated the quake's magnitude as 5.8. The earthquake lasted about 45 seconds. It was centered five miles southwest of Mineral, Va., a small town in the central part of the state, located in Louisa County. Mineral is about 39 miles from Richmond and 83 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.

USGS reports that the quake was Virginia's largest since a magnitude 5.9 quake in 1897.

USGS intensity map of Aug. 23, 2011, Virginia quake This map from the U.S. Geological Survey shows the intensity of the August 23 quake as reported in the surrounding area. (Credit: U.S. Geological Survey)

The depth of the quake was 3.7 miles, according to USGS, the federal government agency that monitors earthquakes in the United States. The quake occurred at about 1:53 p.m. EDT and was felt up and down the East Coast. Reports of the quake came from as far north as Ottawa, Canada, to as far south as North Carolina. The quake's rumblings even extended west to Alabama and Ohio.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS instrument captured a cloud-free, visible-light image of Virginia in November 2004, used here to describe the earthquake. MODIS instruments fly aboard NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites.

USA Today noted that the shallow depth of the quake and the east coast's geology enabled it to be felt over a large distance than might otherwise have been expected.

Prior to yesterday's quake, the most recent tremor of note was centered in Maryland on July 16, 2010.

Related Links

› Computer models of the quake from NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in California
› NASA's Earth Observatory blogs about the quake
› Tectonic plate map of the Earth authored by NASA Goddard's Dr. Paul Lowman
› Details from the USGS on the Aug. 23 quake
› USGS earthquake website
Rob Gutro
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.