United States

4.1 Magnitude Earthquake Rumbles DC Area

A USGS geophysicist described the earthquake as "very unusual"

Did you feel it?

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake has hit the East Coast and rumbled the D.C. area. 

The quake was centered northeast of Dover, Delaware, according to a preliminary report from the U.S. Geological Survey. The location is a short distance north of the Dover Air Force Base, NBC Philadelphia reports.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

People in D.C., Maryland and Virginia say they felt the ground shake. 

"I was going to watch the tree lighting ceremony. All of a sudden I felt the couch shake," Fairfax County resident Edward Moore told News4.

Moore said he looked over at his dog Rudy expecting that she was jumping on the couch.

"When I looked over at her, she was curved up into a ball," he said.

USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso described the earthquake as "very unusual."

"Talking with some of the other seismologists here, none of us can remember working a quake in Delaware," he said.

Caruso said he does not expect to see major injuries or damage caused by the quake. Those effects normally occur once an earthquake hits a magnitude in the mid 5s, he said.

"Aftershocks are a possibility," he added.

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The earthquake that hit the D.C. area in August 2011 was more than 50 times bigger than the quake Thursday, according to the USGS. 

The quake jolted downtown Dover, sending lawmakers and workers in the statehouse outdoors to see what happened. Police and emergency officials did not have any immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Sgt. Rene Carberry, a spokeswoman at Dover Air Force Base, said people on the military installation felt it; some went outside to see if something had fallen down. She said there were no signs of damage at the base, and no change was expected in its operations.

The jolt was strong enough in downtown Baltimore that a smattering of residents streamed out of office towers and into the streets. Husam Albarmawi, a 30-year-old graduate student at the University of Maryland, rushed out of an apartment tower with his wife when they felt two separate jolts, roughly 20 seconds apart, in their 23rd-story apartment.

"When we felt it we looked at each other like, 'Are we losing it?'" said Albarmawi as they ventured back upstairs after waiting for a few minutes outside. "It was actually pretty scary and pretty surprising."

The Maryland Emergency Management Office said the earthquake was felt by many in the state neighboring Delaware to the west. The agency tweeted that people should "drop, cover and hold on if you feel the earth move."

The 2011 quake was centered near Mineral, Virginia, about 80 miles southwest of D.C. It lasted 30 to 40 seconds and was felt up and down the East Coast. No larger earthquake has ever hit closer to D.C.

Aftershocks followed, including a 4.2-magnitude aftershock felt inside the Beltway. 

No one was killed, but the quake did extensive damage to the Washington National Cathedral and the Washington Monument.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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