MOUNT VERNON — Numerous reports from local residents stating they experienced what felt like an earthquake were received around the area early Tuesday afternoon.
Brian Hess, Knox County Emergency Management Agency director, reported that an earthquake was confirmed at 1:51 p.m., originating near Mineral, Va., measuring 5.9 on the Richter Scale.
“It was felt clear across Knox County,” said Hess shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday. Stating that there have been no reports of damage, Hess was awaiting further word from Ohio EMA after receiving many calls from citizens and first responders who all felt the quake to some degree.
“Nobody believes me,” said Jenny Wert after feeling the tremor while at work at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. “It was a slight tremor. The water in the glass on my desk was shaking,” she said, adding that friends reported feeling the quake in Dayton and Cedarville.
“It was like a swaying back and forth,” said Elizabeth Reynolds of Cliff Street, Mount Vernon. “I thought my apartment was falling down,” she said, adding that her curtains were shaking and the pull chains on her lamps were rattling.
Shoshanna Lee of Warsaw had just risen from a nap when she noticed her house was swaying, and two chandeliers were rocking back and forth. “It lasted about 15 to 20 seconds,” said Lee. “Our house is really old, so I didn’t know if it was just our house or what. She said it scared her as picture frames on the walls were shaking and her dog was acting scared, too.
The quake was reportedly felt as far away as Rhode Island, according to Hess. The Ohio Department of Transportation is still assessing its structures, although no damage is expected to be found.
One major power generating plant for Ohio was affected by the quake which caused some scattered power outages locally. Two nuclear power plants in Ohio, located at Beaver Valley and Perry, both felt the quake and are still operating normally.
Two aftershocks of 2.2 and 2.8 on the Richter Scale were reported in Virginia, just outside of Richmond.
Bill Reinthal, professor of geology and oceanography at the University of Akron, shared some insight on Tuesday’s quake.
“The crust of the earth is much more stable in this part of the country than it is out West,” said Reinthal. “The West Coast is the leading edge of a tectonic plate with numerous fault lines.”
Plates within the earth’s crust over time grind together, causing the effects of an earthquake to be felt across long distances.
Reinthal explained that the weight of ice from glaciers over many years has compressed the earth’s crust down into the mantle. The loss of that weight then causes slow but gradual adjustments over time. “There are some upward, slow, gentle, gradual movements ... probably millimeters per year. Stresses build up, and they can break,” said Reinthal, in explaining why earthquakes occur.
“Aftershocks tend to be smaller,” said Reinthal, adding that the chance for aftershocks in Ohio is pretty small. “There is a potential, but we’re about as stable as you can get.”
Although some have voiced a rising concern for earthquakes due to hydraulic fracturing, Reinthal stated that there is no particular increased risk for earthquakes. “Ohio is like a perfect little layer cake with not a tremendous number of faults compared to some places like California and Nevada,” he said.