Earthquake tremors felt in region

BY STACI WILSON and VIRGINIA CODY

Tremors from a 5.8 magnitude earthquake inVirginia were felt Tuesday afternoon in Susquehanna and Wyoming counties.

The epicenter of the quake was about nine miles south of Mineral,Va., according to reports by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Dr. Ian Saginor, an assistant professor of natural sciences at Keystone College, monitors earthquake progress at the college’s monitoring station in this file photo from 2009.

According to Dr. Ian Saginor, an assistant professor of natural sciences at Keystone College who heads up the college’s seismic monitoring station, said the earthquake was quite large for the region.

Furthermore, Saginor said, it may be the largest one this area has on record.

The earthquake, which had an epicenter in central Virginia, was felt as far away as Manhattan, Saginor said.

Dave Carichner, the operations and training officer at Wyoming County’s Emergency Management Agency, said he received at least 50 calls from concerned residents. In fact, calls were received from every municipality in the county.

Those calls, he said, involved questions like “did something happen?” all the way to “My TV just fell off the shelf.”

Carichner said that there had been no reported injuries or damage.  However, even though school was not in session, the Tunkhannock Area School District did evacuate its administrative personnel.

When the all-clear call came through, employees of the district were allowed to return to the building to collect their personal belongings and were then sent home.

Tomorrow, Carichner said, maintenance personnel will go through every district building to ensure there has been no structural damage.

In addition, he said, the Emergency Management Agency staff will remain on heightened alert in case of aftershocks.

In Susquehanna County, 911 director Art Donato said about a dozen reports of shaking came in to the communication center but no damage was reported.

Tremors were felt at the Clifford District Court office, Forest City, New Milford, Springville, Hallstead and Montrose.

Dispatchers notified emergency management and PEMA was also alerted that tremors were felt in the Susquehanna County area, Donato said.

Saginor explained that the earthquake differed from the earthquake that hit Japan earlier this year in that it did not occur as a result of tectonic plate edges bumping and grinding into one another.

“This was a intra-plate earthquake,” he said.  “Virginia sits on top of the middle of the plate.  It’s not at the edge.”

Saginor said that Tuesday’s earthquake was probably a result of settling, similar to the way a house settles as it ages.

“This was a flexing or settling earthquake,” he said, adding that earthquakes of this type are frequently caused as a result of melting ice from a long ago Ice Age.

Another thing that makes this earthquake different from the Japanese event was that this earthquake was very shallow, occurring only about kilometer beneath the surface.  The Japanese earthquake, he said, occurred hundreds of kilometers under the ground.

Saginor advised that residents who felt the tremors should avail themselves of a service at the United States Geological Survey website where the USGS compiles data in a Community Intensity Map.

“It’s very useful,” he said, explaining that where the earthquake is actually felt can help the USGS project impacts of future earthquakes.

Although the earthquake was initially recorded as a 5.9, it was later changed to a magnitude of 5.8.