Thursday, August 23, 2012

Whole Lotta Shaking Goin' On

Happy first birthday today to the 2011 Virginia earthquake!  One year ago today at 1:51 PM, the earth shook, rattled and rolled for what seemed to be an eternity, but it was less than a minute.  Californians among us stuck their dainty noses in the air and pointed out that they have them worse than this almost every week. Still, a lot of damage was done...this was a 5.8 magnitude earthquake after all, and it did between $200 million and $300 million in damages to buildings as far away as Georgia and Brooklyn, New York.  No one was killed, and the only injuries reported were minor, although in Suitland, Maryland, eight jars of preserved fish specimens fell from shelves at a Smithsonian Institution storage facility, which surely resulted in a bad stank.

The epicenter of the quake was Louisa County, Virginia, in the Piedmont Mountain range.  I have a friend who was born down there, in Wedlock, Va.  Well, actually, he was born just out of Wedlock, but still. 

The geological blame for the shifting earth's crust goes to the Chopawamsic Fault, a thrust fault.  And we've all committed them from time to time.

In Washington DC, several buildings - the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral among them - suffered severe structural damage. Here in Baltimore, the building most badly compromised was St Patrick's Church in Fells Point.

Either a seismograph or an EKG
I was at my mom's nursing home and none of the superannuated got too shook up about it, you'll pardon the expression.  But I watched with some amusement how the employees of a semi-large office tower across the street filed out as a safety precaution, and then,  on that sunny, warm day, they stood as close as possible to the building they had just fled for fear that it might tumble down.  I guess they figured, yeah, it might crumble on us, but hey, ain't it nice in the shade?

If nothing else, the Eastern half of the United States showed once again that when something like this happens, phone networks are jammed in seconds.  Everyone had to call everyone else to let them know that an earthquake had just occurred.  And they called, as soon as their hands stopped shaking.

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