Wednesday, August 24, 2011

U.S. East Coast May Be At Risk of Aftershocks

The 5.8-magnitude earthquake that surprised the U.S. East Coast with the biggest shake since 1988 may be followed by aftershocks for weeks, scientists said.

A 4.2-magnitude followup struck about six hours after the main temblor yesterday. While serious damage from the aftershocks is unlikely, “you could get a pretty good jolt,” Jack Boatwright, a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist in Menlo Park, California, said in a telephone interview.

The earthquake was the biggest in the East since a 5.9- magnitude tremor in Saguenay, Quebec, 22 years ago. It struck about 90 miles (144 kilometers) southwest of Washington. It prompted evacuation of landmarks such as the Lincoln Memorial and halted traffic in New York’s Holland Tunnel.

The quake struck at 1:51 p.m., near Mineral, Virginia, the survey said on its website. The shock was felt as far west as Columbus, Ohio, and as far north as Toronto. It was the strongest to hit the Virginia area since 1897, according to USGS data. more