Quake gave some Rapp residents the shakes

Did you feel it? A number of Rappahannock County residents did.

A 3.6 magnitude earthquake centered in Germantown, Md., on Friday, July 16, rattled the area — and some nerves.
Some folks out here in faraway Rappahannock County reported noticing it when it struck at 5:04 a.m.

The United States Geological Survey’s Web site states that 15 people in Amissville, five in Washington, and one each in Flint Hill, Huntly, Sperryville and Castleton reported noticing the seismic activity. Of those communities, Sperryville is farthest away from the epicenter of the quake at 105 miles.

Bruce Sloane of Sperryville says not to worry. He’s a retired geologist and National Park Service naturalist.

“You could say that this event was sort of like a stair creaking, a release of energy as the earth settles. It means absolutely nothing,” he said. “It’s not a precursor of anything. It’s a normal event, and that kind of stuff can happen anyplace.”

Sloane added, “The rocks here bordering the Blue Ridge, in the valleys where we are, these are some of the oldest rocks in the state, and go back about 1.2 billion years. They haven’t been active since the Appalachians were folded and faulted.”

USGS says the strongest earthquake on record that originated in Virginia happened on May 31, 1897. The epicenter of the 5.8 quake was in Giles County. Last Friday’s quake was the strongest to hit within 30 miles of Washington, D.C. since record-keeping began in 1974.

You can learn more about earthquakes by going to the USGS Web site at earthquake.usgs.gov. There you can sign up for its free “earthquake notification service” that sends an e-mail to alert you when an earthquake in your area occurs.

About James Ivancic 68 Articles
James Ivancic is a reporter for the Fauquier Times in Warrenton, Va. Contact him at jivancic@fauquier.com.