Friday, August 19, 2016

Scientists find likely cause of 2011 Virginia earthquake, believe there may be more to come

On Aug. 23, 2011, those living in eastern North America, from Ontario to Georgia, felt an unexpected shock as the earth trembled in the wake of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck near the town of Mineral, Virginia, around 2 p.m. local time.
A notable quake with a magnitude of 4.0 or higher east of the Rockies is a rarity, according to USGS reports.
However, a recent study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Solid Earth is shedding light on the likely causes behind the event and may indicate that there are more to come.
Civilians and military personnel evacuate the Pentagon after an earthquake. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Graham/Released) 110823-N-EV723-001

Unlike earthquakes that occur near plate boundaries in the more seismically active regions of the world, the 2011 quake raised questions among researchers and stirred alarm among those living in the Washington, D.C., area who felt its full force.
According to the American Geophysical Union, the journal's parent organization, researchers have discovered pieces of the mantle have been breaking off below the North American Plate in this region and sinking deeper into the earth.
"Our idea supports the view that this seismicity will continue due to unbalanced stresses in the plate," Berk Biryol told the AGU.
Biryol is a seismologist at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and lead author of the recently published study. According to Biryol's research, the geological processes the researchers found revealed thinning and weakening of the plate.
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