In listening today to the seismographic results of the 5.9 magnitude earthquake that just occurred in VA and the report that it was felt all the way up to Boston and over to Ohio, I began to wonder why it was felt in such a wide geographic range. The earthquakes that occur on the west coast do not resonate those distances. Need some scientific expertise here. I initially thought it might be the mountain ranges that stopped it on the west coast, but then wouldn't it depend on how deep the quake was?
Any information on this would be great. Good teachable moment!
"East Coast earthquakes ARE felt over a much larger area than earthquakes occurring on the West Coast, because the eastern half of the country is mainly composed of older rock that has not been fractured and cracked by frequent earthquake activity in the recent geologic past. Rock that is highly fractured and crushed absorbs more seismic energy than rock that is less fractured."
Additional Trivia: The most widely felt earthquakes ever to strike the United States were centered near the town of New Madrid, Missouri, in 1811 and 1812. Three earthquakes, felt as far away as Washington D.C. were each estimated to be 8.0 in magnitude. So the waves spread further to the East than to the West because of the underlying rock.
You should have been in Raleigh today. We were shakin it! I also discovered th eDid you Feel it? website with lots of data for projects.
Thinkfinity just updated its feature collection of resources for earthquakes and tsunamis. Don't miss it — especially if yesterday's east coast earthquake roused your curiosity!
Not entirely on-topic, but definitely in the category of "interesting earthquake news." I live across the street from the National Zoo, and they took some great notes on the animals' reactions to the quake--some several minutes/seconds before!
That is fascinating about the animal reactions in the zoo. It is times like this that I would like to be teaching science. What a great way to begin class by discussing animal reactions to natural disasters. I had read about the way that elephants can feel tremors prior to any actual occurrence, but had never known about other animal reactions.
Thanks for bringing this information to our attention.
The rare 5.8 earthquake that shook the eastern United States traveled over a wide area.