Earthquake's epicenter just outside Giles County

By Jeff Williamson - Digital Content Manager, Rachel Lucas - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

GILES COUNTY, Va. - An earthquake could be felt in Giles County on Wednesday afternoon.

The 3.1 magnitude earthquake's hit at 1:33 p.m. and its epicenter was about 8.5 miles NNE of Pearisburg, Virginia, according to the United States Geological Survey.

USGS says that an earthquake of that magnitude may cause vibrations similar to the passing of a truck.

The depth of the earthquake was about 13 miles deep, which is considered a shallow earthquake, according to the USGS.

The quake was felt in Pearisburg, Pembroke and Newport.

The USGS originally reported that it was a 3.2 earthquake. Some residents reported hearing a boom during the quake that only lasted seconds. 

Martin C. Chapman, Research Associate Professor at Virginia Tech Department of Geosciences said that is not an uncommon phenomenon.

"If they heard a noise, that's not uncommon with earthquakes in eastern North America. What you are hearing is the seismic waves that are converting into sound waves. If the earthquake is not too deep, you will hear a boom sound sort of like thunder," Chapman said.

Although the official magnitude from the USGS was recorded at a 3.1, Chapman says the quake was much stronger. He said data at Virginia Tech indicates the quake registered at a 3.7-4.0.

"If you would have been right at the epicenter, you would have probably felt shaking for just a few seconds. Most of the strongest shaking, as you get further away would only have lasted two the three seconds," Chapman said.

Chapman said to date, over 200 earthquakes have been recorded in Giles County.

The Giles County Sheriff's Department issued a Code Red to all residents in the county after the earthquake hit. The sheriff's office asks that only emergencies related to the earthquake be reported to dispatchers. If you need to report structural damage call Giles County Administration at 540-921-2525. For other emergencies such as utility damages contact the sheriff's office at 540-921-3842.

Maintenance workers have been asked to check for structural damage at all Giles County Public Schools. So far, no damage has been reported.



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