Monday’s West Virginia earthquake rare in magnitude, likely a natural occurrence

GREENBRIER COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – A rare earthquake between Lewisburg and Beckley Monday (March 4) is only one of 25 that were larger than a magnitude 2.5 in the past 40 years, according to a West Virginia University expert. Because of its depth and location, Monday’s event is likely a natural occurrence unlike earthquakes of a similar magnitude in Braxton County in 2010-2011, said Jaime Toro, professor of geology in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

Jaime Toro
Professor of Geology

“West Virginia is tectonically very stable because it is located far from the plate boundaries and far from major active faults, so earthquakes are rare in the state. Small natural earthquakes do occur once in a while because all of the Earth’s surface is under some degree of stress and the rocks have ancient planes of weakness which will slip eventually. In the past 40 years there have only been about 25 quakes that were larger than magnitude 2.5 in West Virginia. And of these, a handful of events, near Sutton in Braxton County, were probably associated with an injection well which was being used to dispose of gas-field brine, so they were not natural. The depth and location of the Lewisburg event suggest that it is not a man-made earthquake. The energy released by a M2.6 quake is comparable to that of a moderate size lightning bolt and the shaking will dissipate quickly with distance, so it is nothing to worry about.”


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