Very strong and dangerous earthquake rattles Virginia - damage overview

Latest news update (see below) : damage overview
Earthquake overview : A very strong 5.8 earthquake has rattled the Virginia area at 1:51 PM local time.
To read the full story as it happened, we advise our readers to start at the bottom of the page (earthquake data) and to continue going up.

I have Felt it" Reports --> see below + Let us know how you have felt this earthquake
Read also : Magnitude 4.5 aftershock Virginia + 93 “I Have Felt It” reports
Read also : Video selection of the Virginia earthquake by
Read also : Virginia earthquake “I Have Felt It” reports – 106 reports
Read also : Understanding the Magnitude 5.8 Virginia earthquake (August 23, 2011)
Watch also : has made a short video telling and explaining what happened. The video is embedded below or click here to watch it.

Image courtesy - click on the image for all the pictures

Important update : DAMAGE OVERVIEW
- A few minor injuries have occurred, as well as some people in shock.
- This is a major disruption earthquake due to the low earthquake risk perception, with relatively minor consequences.
- Louisa, VA - 2 chimneys reported collapsed, minor cracks in many buildings.
- Many buildings in other towns have reported minor cracking
- In Washington, three pinnacles have broken from the central tower and other pieces broke. In addition, the Monument had minor cracking.
- Several school buildings had damage, as have town hall buildings in the epicentral area.
- Nuclear plants have shut down as a precautionary measure as have many other organisations. It will all be back to normal tomorrow after checks have been made.
- Flights have been delayed. has labeled this earthquake as CATDAT ORANGE, not for the level of structural damage, but due to the economic impact.

Important I Have Felt It report from Louisa County, VA :
Louisa County, VA -  I was inside one of the seriously damaged schools when the earthquake hit- debris was falling, very difficult to walk. Terrifying, horrifying ordeal, but all children and staff escaped quickly and without a scratch.  A miracle!  It lasted about 30 seconds, and was followed by 3 aftershocks.  What I will probably always remember are the shepherd's hooks in the sidewalk that kept swaying, even after the noise and vibration were no longer detectable.  I don't need to experience another one of these.  Ever. - MMI VII

Update : The following video shows the shaking of an office building in New York City. The video has been recorded by a surveillance camera.

Update : This video is from CBS6 in Richmond, Virginia, closest big city to the earthquakes epicenter.

Update  Richmond : Buildings in the downtown area have been evacuated and Richmond fire and building crews are currently on site. Workers are being sent home and is causing traffic problems in the area.

Update :  Based on what we have seen so far and also based on our experience in the field, we do not think that the damage will be severe and we hope to hear soon that no people will have been injured by this earthquake.

Update : The epicenter area has got Mobile connection problems, probably created by overloaded lines (as it happens everywhere in the world)

Update : Some building damage has been reported in Mineral, closest to the epicenter.

Update : Until now we have NO real situation update from Louisa and/or Mineral, the 2 locations closest to the epicenter.

Update : Generally we can state that the situation is quiet chaotic over the many states that have felt the earthquake. Most of the states outside the greater epicenter area have only experienced a weak shaking, nothing really dangerous, but we agree very frightening.

Update : We are currently at the ceiling of our server capabilities.  We are sorry about this. We have to limit our readers in order to avoid total collapse of the server as it was in the beginning. The server people are doing all they can to allow more people.

Update : Luckily there is only a 2.8 aftershock so far.

Update : A lot of buildings were evacuated everywhere where the shaking was fierce. This was also the case in Washington DC

Update : 2 Nuclear reactors have been halted after the Virginia quake. The Nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station in Louisa County are rather close to the epicenter. the Power plants were automatically taken off-line by the plants safety systems.  The NRC is sending inspectors to the plant to find out whether everything is OK. We do estimate that the distance from the power plants to the epicenter is 20 miles.

Update : The earthquake was even felt until Ontario Canada

Louisa earthquake landscape - Panoramio image from BBest -

Update :The earthquake was felt in Washington, New York City, North Carolina

Update : Even USGS server cannot follow the load. We are not alone with these problems.

Update : The max. Felt reports arriving at USGS are VII MMI = very strong shaking

Update : We are sorry for the delay of reporting due to the huge demand the server could not follow. We are trying to close the gap right now.

Update : The new (recalculated) location of the epicenter is right almost below Mineral and Louisa

Update : The Magnitude has been recalculated to 5.9

Update : Depth has been recalculated from 6 km to 1 km (more dangerous if people are living just above it

"I Have Felt It" reports as received by
MMI values (if indicated) after the text (III: Weak shaking, IV Light shaking, V Moderate shaking, VI Strong shaking, VII Very Strong shaking)
Gaithersburg, MD - MMI 4 checked - Sitting in basement. House starts shaking, stuff falling off shelves in the basement. Not windy outside.
Buffalo, NY - MMI 4 checked -
Williamsburg VA, USA - MMI 23 checked - At about 1:50 PM EDT felt slight shaking indoors as if a very heavy truck were driving nearby. Caused hanging chimes on grandfather's clock to ring slightly. Very short duration - 15 to 30 seconds.
Lovettsville, VA, USA - MMI 2 3 Checked - started at 13:53 EST and lasted about 5 seconds
Southport, NC. - MMI 4 checked - Rocked open solid wood doors @ 3 - 6 inches.
Harrisburg, PA - MMI 4 checked - We evacuated our building after the building shook. We went back in when we realized it was almost the entire East Coast felt the shake.
Frederick, MD - MMI 5 checked - The Telephone lines outside were all swaying and inside the cubicles were shaking for probably 5 seconds.
Northern KY - MMI 4 checked - Working on 5th floor of concrete building in greater Cincinnati area. Felt shaking/swaying of building, something in my office made a noise. Scared me. Several people felt it, but some say they didn't. Happened on 8/23 at about 1:52 pm.
Rockford, OHIO - MMI 23 Checked - At 1:57 p.m. August 23, 2011, my desk chair rocked back and forth for two minutes, while the windown shade tapped rapidly and lightly on the glass.
Clarksburg WV - MMI 4 checked - Vibrations felt, items slightly shaking.
Pointe Claire, QC - MMI Checked - I was sitting in a medical building (2nd floor) waiting for my appointment when the floor started to sway.  The doctor considered getting out through the window but they didn't open.  We all sat them dumbstruck, not knowing what to do.  Luckily it didn't last long...
St-Albert, ON, Canada - MMI 2 3 checked - The building was moving back and forth, the blinds were rocking.  That was August 23rd 2011 at around 2pm EST.  It rocked for over 30 seconds, I think close to a minute.
Reading, PA - MMI 5 checked - Work in a three story building in Green Hills PA.  The building shook for about 15-20 seconds.
Canton, Ohio - MMI 5 checked - At work on second floor of building. Thought I was imaginining it at first until others in my building started coming out into the hallway asking if we should evacuate.  My computer monitors were shaking and I could feel the floor shaking.  I thought that somewhere there had been an explosion and we were feeling the aftershocks.  Kind of scary.
North Haven, CT - MMI 5 checked - The floor underneath me at work shook NOTICEABLY (large plant/tree in front of my desk was SWAYING!) for about 15 - 20 seconds. I looked outside to see if there was a huge 18-wheeler outside (and there was not). I've never felt an earthquake but I instinctively knew that this was something which could potentially be dangerous and I started to leave the building (1 story)but by the time I got up it had stopped.
Ithaca, NY - MMI 5 checked - Prolonged shaking in a back and forth motion for over 30 seconds.  I was seated at home, reading, when the kids' mobile hanging from the ceiling started to move.  Then the rocker across the room moved back and forth for nearly a minute, until the sensation subsided.  The dog, who was upstairs, got up from his nap and came down, like he know something new was happening.  I never thought I would feel such a strong and continous sensaition in NY, having lived in Greece where I experienced many.
Johnstown, PA - MMI 2 3 checked - My desk shock lightly. It felt like I was rocking gently back and forth.  Felt the shaking for about 5-7 seconds. Very weird feeling!
St-Albert, ON, Canada - MMI II-III - The building was moving back and forth, the blinds were rocking.  That was August 23rd 2011 at around 2pm EST.  It rocked for over 30 seconds, I think close to a minute.
Pittsburgh, PA - MMI II-III - Just before 2pm EST we felt our two-story brick office building swaying.
New Jersey - MMI V - I was sitting at my desk at home and the entire desk was shaking and also my kitchen table. The dogs got up and was looking around to see what was up! I didn't know what the heck was going on! I live in Northern New Jersey and my neighbor told me there was an earthquake! Crazy!
Oxford, Md. - MMI IV - Working in my office, seemed like floor became somewhat liquid, building movement less than 10 seconds, but felt like I was on a boat in the water. Furniture swayed, pictures on wall moved, actually kind of exciting. No damage just the thrill.  Wow, an earthquake in Maryland. Go figure!
Lynbrook, NY - MMI IV - Here in Long Island, NY my bookshelves were swaying and windows were rattling.
East Rutherford, NJ - MMI II-III - Sitting at the table working on a project on my laptop. My 8-year-old son was sitting at his laptop beside me. The table started shaking. I thought my son was doing it, so I told him to stop, and he said he wasn't doing anything. That's when I realized the curtains, the bathroom door and anything else not securely nailed down were also shaking. Checked the basement for any cracks or leaks, checked with neighbors and local police who also experienced this, checked with my mom and sister who live south of here, and all reports corroborate. I have lived 39 years in northern New Jersey and never felt anything like this. I must admit, it's got me feeling surprisingly shaken. Pun intended.
Morristown, NJ - MMI II-III - We are on the 4th floor at 445 South Street, an office building in Morristown, NJ.  Shortly before 2:00 p.m. I was at my desk and I felt that something was wrong.  Then I experienced a swaying feel.  I looked down and observed the chair I was sitting in was rolling back and forth a couple of inches.  I didn't hear anything but it was unsettling so I left my office.  All my coworkers were out of their seats as well.  No one knew what was happening but we all agreed to leave.  And we took the stairs and got out of the building.
Accokeek, MD - MMI VII - Very loud.  Floor shook.  Trees rattled as with wind.  Stuff fell of walls on nearby house, electricity out there.  Overall little damage.  I immediately knew what it was.
Canada, Quebec, Pointe-Calumet - MMI II-III - Vers 14h tout s'est mis a vibrer dans la maison, les lampes, portes plantes durant environ 20 secondes.
If you want to read more 'I Have Felt It" reports, please read our special page by clicking here.

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 5.9 (recalculated from an earlier 5.8)
UTC Time : Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 17:51:03 UTC
Local time at epicenter : Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 01:51:03 PM at epicenter
Depth (Hypocenter) : 1 km (recalculated from an earlier 6 km)
Geo-location(s) :
8 km (5 miles) SSW (195°) from Mineral, VA
11 km (7 miles) SSE (148°) from Louisa, VA
45 km (27 miles) E of Charlottesville, Virginia
55 km (34 miles) SW of Fredericksburg, Virginia
64 km (39 miles) NW of RICHMOND, Virginia
82 km (50 miles) NNE of Farmville, Virginia

Links to important maps
USGS Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map of the area showing the kind of terrain the earthquake took place
3-dimensional view of the earthquake area (USGS epicenter location)
Shaking map
Human impact map
Historic earthquakes map
Seismic hazard map
Focal mechanism report


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I did feel it – Ik heb het gevoeld – Το έκανα αισθάνεται – Yo lo siento – 我的确感到了 – 私はそれを感じていました- Ich habe es gefühlt – Bunu hissediyorum yaptı – لم أشعر أنه