Five earthquakes rattle Southwest Virginia within a month

A Virginia Tech professor of Geophysics gives insight into what this could mean

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Five earthquakes in a month - raising questions for many people in Southwest Virginia.

Two in Giles County, two in Carroll County, and one in Craig.

Martin Chapman, a Professor of Geophysics at Virginia Tech, said not to panic.

“Virginia has its fair share of earthquakes,” Chapman said.

For instance, the Mineral Earthquake that shook the east coast in 2011.

“It just came out of the blue,” Chapman said.

But he admits this much activity is a bit unusual.

“Typically we’ll go about once every six months there will be an earthquake in Virginia that’s big enough to be felt,” he said.

Where we have been experiencing earthquakes falls on the Giles County Seismic Zone - according to Chapman. Meaning, it’s prone to more activity.

“The Giles County Seismic zone is called that because in 1897, we had a magnitude five, it was about a five-and-a-half magnitude earthquake,” he said.

And he says ever since then, we’ve seen earthquakes in that area, even though most of them aren’t to that scale.

Sometimes a series of small earthquakes are a precursor to a larger one, but Chapman says it’s hard to forecast.

“I can’t sit here and tell you these things aren’t foreshocks. That’s what those folks are talking about. Sometimes bigger earthquakes are proceeded by smaller earthquakes, and they’re called foreshocks,” he said.

He says even though these small earthquakes are common, to be aware.

“I think anytime you have a smaller earthquake, you should have a heightened awareness of earthquakes in general,” he said.

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.

Recommended Videos