3.2 magnitude earthquake rattles multiple counties

Posted at 10:05 PM, May 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-23 07:39:46-04

POWHATAN, Va. (WTVR) -- Wednesday evening a 3.2 magnitude earthquake rattled multiple counties.

USGS confirms the earthquake happened in Powhatan at 9:47 p.m.

Multiple residents in Hanover, Chesterfield, Powhatan, Louisa, Buckingham, and Henrico report having felt the earthquake. Some south Richmond residents reported that they felt the rattle as well.

"Felt and heard it out here in King William.... Thought it was thunder. Scared me straight," wrote Tamara Johnson, on the CBS 6 Facebook page. 

" Felt it in BRANDERMILL. Shook my bed and room," wrote Terri Woodfin. 

"Everything in my house was shaking. Dishes, floor, and especially me. My dog still is --poor thing," Charity Manis wrote.

Martin Chapman from the Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech emailed the CBS 6 Storm Team Thursday, saying, "This is not an aftershock of the 2011 earthquake. It is another in a long history of moderate earthquakes in a broad area that we refer to as the central Virginia seismic zone."

The August 23, 2011 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook the ground from the Carolinas to Canada. 

Meteorologist Carrie Rose spoke with IRIS Consortium scientist Dr. John Taber in 2013, and asked him if we will ever experience an earthquake of that magnitude.

He told her that is “not likely.”

It’s not impossible, but “the chances are very slim” in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone. Why? Because that earthquake, and the 100-plus, subsequent “settling” aftershocks, have released the energy that had built up along those complex, folded and buried faults.

The vast majority of the pressure was relieved on August 23, 2011. With that relieved pressure, tension in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone could take several lifetimes to rebuild.

He said that we will likely feel tremors for up to five years from that initial earthquake. 

We will also continue to have the chance for relatively weaker events like Wednesday evening's separate earthquake within the seismic zone.