University of Delaware
Geologist Stefanie Baxter, a research associate at the Delaware Geological Survey.

Quake, rattle and roll

Quake largest felt in Delaware since 1886, researchers report

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Editor's note: To visit a special Delaware Geological Survey page about the Aug. 23 earthquake, click here.

5:24 p.m., Aug. 23, 2011--The Aug. 23 earthquake, registering 5.8 at its epicenter in central Virginia, was the largest one felt in Delaware since 1886 when a magnitude 6.6-7.3 quake hit Charleston, S.C., according to geologist Stefanie Baxter, a research associate at the Delaware Geological Survey, a Delaware state agency based at the University of Delaware.

Baxter was having lunch at a restaurant on Main Street in Newark, Del., when the tables started shaking and the lights began to sway. 

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“Did you feel that?” Baxter said, and immediately headed back to the office.

The Delaware Geological Survey’s three seismographs recorded the quake; their data has been provided digitally to Lamont-Doherty Observatory at Columbia University, which will do regional analyses of the event. 

Forty-five minutes after the quake, 2.8-magnitude aftershocks occurred, Baxter said, but were likely too small to be noticed in this area. 

Baxter said she wouldn’t be surprised if more aftershocks occur, but doesn’t anticipate local damage. 

“It’s the Earth rumbling around a bit,” Baxter said.

According to a history of earthquakes in Delaware available on the U.S. Geological Survey website, the only earthquake to actually center in Delaware and cause severe property damage occurred on Oct. 9, 1871, when chimneys toppled and windows broke in northern Delaware at Wilmington, and damage was reported in New Castle, Del., and Oxford, Pa.

Article by Tracey Bryant

Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson

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