Small earthquakes rattle Craig County last night

Local News
That loud boom residents heard across southwest Virginia last night was not a plane, but actually an earthquake. And then another.

Earthquakes in Virginia and Vicinity 1774 – 2004. (PHOTO: Courtesy USGS)

CRAIG COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — That loud boom residents heard across southwest Virginia last night was not a plane, but actually an earthquake. And then another.

Two earthquakes were recorded by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Monday night, Dec. 9, and Tuesday morning, Dec. 10.

The first occurred last night at 11:10 p.m with an epicenter 12 miles west of New Castle, said John Bellini, a geophysicist for USGS.

The second earthquake happened at 1:45 a.m. this morning in the same area. Both were recorded at a magnitude 2.5, which is the minimum amount the USGS will report an earthquake, he said.

The geophysicist said this level of an earthquake would not have caused damage because a single event has to reach a four-level magnitude to have an impact.

“Western Virginia is full of fault lines,” said Dr. Martin Chapman, a research professor in geophysics at Virginia Tech, and common for this type of occurrence in the area.

Chapman said the source of the earthquake was caused by ancient fault lines about seven miles deep.

What made this event unusual, he said, was that it involved two main earthquakes and several aftershocks with a magnitude of 1.5. This is called an earthquake swarm.

The last major earthquake recorded in the area, Chapman said, was the 1897 earthquake recorded a 5.5 magnitude in Giles County.

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