Radford geology professors share insight on small quake that shook parts of southwest Virginia

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RADFORD, Va. (WFXR) — On Monday morning, a 2.6 magnitude earthquake gave parts of southwest Virginia a bit of a shake.

The small earthquake happened a little after 9:30 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 27. The U.S. Geological Survey confirmed the quake occurred approximately two miles north of Lafayette, but it could still be felt in the Salem area and near Blacksburg.

The Radford University Geology Department Chair and Associate Professor Dr. Jonathan Tso says that the earthquake was small, but if someone was home, they would be able to feel it.

“Mostly you would feel it if you are in a wood-frame structure, which is flexible. That has a certain amount of bend to it back and forth,” said Dr. Tso. “The higher up you are, say if you are on the second floor or higher, you will feel it sway or rattle the pictures on your walls.”

He says since the late 1800s, the Commonwealth has experienced dozens of these earthquakes. Not only do they happen in swarms, but Dr. Tso says southwest Virginia will continue to see more of these quakes.

“Southwest Virginia is part of a zone of slightly increased seismic risk called the Giles County Seismic Zone, which is an extension of the Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone,” Dr. Tso explained.

An assistant professor of geology at Radford University, Dr. Ryan Sincavage, says this small earthquake tells us more about Virginia’s history than its future.

“We have a lot of faults that are still now and then activated, but we are not generally a very tectonic area. Having said that, I think we can expect to see small magnitude earthquakes like this quite frequently,” said Dr. Sincavage.

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