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This map from the U.S. Geological Survey, captured at 2:04 p.m. on Tuesday Aug. 23, shows earthquakes around the world over the last week. The Virginia earthquake is in red, and is the second-largest recorded during that time.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011

No damage but some shaking in area from Virginia earthquake

Tuesday’s earthquake in Virginia was felt by people throughout southern New Hampshire, but caused no damage here.

Nashua Police Sgt. Kerry Baxter said Tuesday that a number of people called to report the shaking.

“We’ve just had calls that residents have felt it, but we haven’t had reports of any damage or anything,” Baxter said.

The 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck near Richmond, Va., just before 2 p.m., according to the United States Geological Survey. It was the strongest reported earthquake in modern history for Virginia.

It was also stronger than any earthquake in recent New Hampshire history. The state’s only real earthquake damage was caused by a pair of magnitude 5.5 quakes that hit near Lake Ossipee in 1940, enough to do light damage to buildings throughout the center of the state.

The state is hit by a half-dozen small earthquakes – less than 3.0 on the Richter scale – most years.

Kim Mavrogeorge, of Litchfield, reported a “15-second house-shaking ordeal” on The Telegraph’s Facebook page.

Tuesday’s quake was felt by many in New Hampshire, according to reports submitted online to the USGS. Reports were submitted from as far north as Maine and Quebec, Canada.

The USGS says that the geology of the Eastern U.S. carries shock waves farther than west of the Rocky Mountains. In the East, it said in a backgrounder prepared in response to Tuesday’s temblor, “an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as 10 times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the West Coast.”

The quake struck at 1:51 p.m., according to the USGS. The epicenter was in central Virginia, between Richmond and Washington, D.C.

University of New Hampshire geophysics professor Margaret Boettcher, in response to an e-mail query, wrote earlier that New Hampshire is at little or no risk of ocean tsunamis from earthquakes because of the region’s geology: “It is quite unlikely that the East Coast will be hit by a tsunami generated by a fault slip in the Atlantic because there are very few subduction zones (the type of plate boundary that Japan and Chile are on) in the Atlantic.”

– Telegraph staff