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Earthquake Hits US East Coast

Washington MonumentTuesday was a rare day in the US with a rather big earthquake striking the east coast. About 90 tremors were recorded across the country, but just a few of them were felt and only 12 registered above a 3.0 magnitude. The biggest one was in Virginia, which registered at 5.8 on the Richter Scale. The tremor was felt from New York to Georgia because it was shallow at 1-4 miles deep.

The Virginia quake was also the biggest for the state since 1897, which caused the Pentagon and Capitol to be evacuated, along with some airports and other buildings. A professor at Brown University said that, although the area is known to have smaller quakes that can spread due to accommodating landscape, the severity of this tremor was very unusual. Seismology Professor Karen Fisher said it’s the biggest she’s aware of in recent history.

California research seismologist Peggy Hellweg says that the difference in terrain between the west and east coasts is why shockwaves are more common to spread. The ground on the west coast is choppy so the tremors don’t spread out as far. The bedrock in the east causes the shockwaves to disperse beautifully. There is also a difference in plate tectonics, with the west sitting over the boundary of the North American and Pacific. There aren’t any plates sliding past each other in the east, so stronger earthquakes are less common.

Because of the earthquake in Virginia, the Washington Monument remained closed on Wednesday and looks to stay that way for a while longer. National Park Service spokesman Bill Line has confirmed that there is a four-foot long, up to one-inch wide crack in the 550-foot structure. It will only be reopened after the firm can evaluate the situation and repair it. Bill says it’s impossible to know how long this will take, but they have to make sure it’s safe before allowing the public around it.

Despite this monument being closed, the rest of the capital didn’t really suffer any damage. An Architect of the Capitol spokesperson said that there wasn’t any structural damage. The Thomas Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials were also unharmed by the earthquake and remain open to the public.

Aside from this, there were disruptions to travel services across the east coast. There wasn’t anything really major, but transportation did kind of slowdown for a little while. Airports throughout the region didn’t report any damage, but operations did significantly slow for about two hours in some places while areas were evacuated. Although travellers were told to expect delays, services were soon back to normal. Some railway, underground and bus services were slowed while inspections were carried out for damage, also causing delays. However, operations returned to normal by Tuesday night.




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