An earthquake centered in Virginia rattled parts of New Jersey today, including the Princeton area, and could be felt all the way to Massachusetts.
The earthquake hit Virginia at 1:51 Eastern Standard Time. The epicenter was about eight miles south of Mineral, Va., and 87 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The USGS initially recorded the quake at 5.8 magnitude but later upgraded it to a 5.9. An aftershock was registered by the USGS just after 2:40 p.m.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries or structural damage in New Jersey, but the quake cause damage in other areas, including buildings in Washington D.C.
House and Senate office buildings were evacuated as tremors shook the buildings for several seconds. The quake also shook the the Pentagon, the biggest office building in the world, prompting a partial evacuation. And at the National Cathedral, the tip of a spire crashed down onto the steps
Scientists in New Jersey estimated that the intensity of the quake was about a 3 in the Garden State, meaning most people felt a mild shaking. Cell phone service was briefly interrupted in several areas.
Workers throughout the Princeton area reported feeling their office buildings shake, including people in offices at Forrestal Village in Plainsboro and on Nassau Street in the Borough.
Paul Schindel of Three Bears Communications, which is headquartered on the fifth floor of 20 Nassau Street, felt the building shake and noticed his water glass rattle.
Janet Pellichero, the Recycling Coordinator in the township, felt the Public Works Department trailer shake.
Borough resident Anita Garoniak was sitting in her office chair when she noticed the keys in her filing cabinet start to swing.
Township resident Lynn Irving was at home with her children when the quake hit. “My 11-year-old daughter was doing the family laundry and ran out of the laundry room complaining about her motion sickness from staring at the laundry machine,” she said.
The quake also caused a seismic stir on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, as several posts per second mentioned the quake right after it occurred.
Posts ranged from shock and disbelief, to confusion and humor. A little more than two hours after the earthquake a new Facebook page called “I survived the earthquake of 8/23/2011” already had more than 21,700 fans.
For more info on the quake from the USGS click here.
For information from FEMA click here.