Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quake's impact depended on location, geology; cats had inkling; rural nuclear plant had close call

The rare earthquake that rattled the Eastern U.S. Tuesday was felt by some and not by others, but cats seemed to get a hint of it in advance, according to news reports in the rural mid-Ohio Valley (southeast Ohio and west-central West Virginia).

A staffer at the West Virginia University extension office in Parkersburg, W.Va., told the News & Sentinel newspaper, "I thought my world was coming to an end. ... Everything was shaking, our chairs moved and other things moved." Another local person was taking a late lunch in the highlands just southeast of the city center, and said, "
I was up on Blennerhassett Heights and didn't feel a thing."
A geology teacher at Marietta College, just upriver from Parkersburg on the Ohio side, told the paper that whether someone felt the quake depended on the geology under their particular building. "It's a function of the geologic material under a building," geologist Wendy Bartlett said. "Most of Marietta is built above bedrock, so the quake would be felt less than in an area like Parkersburg that's mostly located over floodplain material."

It seems the "some felt it, some didn't" phenomenon wasn't just among human residents of the region. The director of the local humane society in Parkersburg, Mary Ann Hollis, said the cats at the shelter started acting strange prior to the quake, but not the dogs. "The cats about an hour before were freaking out," Hollis said. "I really do think the cats picked it up." (Read more)

Blogger Paxus Calta, who lives in the Twin Oaks community just five miles southwest of the quake's epicenter of Mineral, Va., in Louisa County (Wikipedia map), writes: "I have lived in San Francisco and Santa Cruz for almost 10 years and this was the wildest ride I have had. The community rallies in these types of circumstances. We form effective little committees, the first of which went around and made sure all the members were accounted for and that everyone was okay."

The Central Virginian, the weekly newspaper in the county seat of Louisa, reports that schools in the county "are closed until after Labor Day to assess damage sustained at each school." The paper paraphrased Dominion Power officials as saying "that the two reactors at North Anna Power Station have been safely shut down. In March, they cited the earthquake rating of the plant at approximately 6.0." The quake was rated at 5.8 or 5.9. The nuclear facility (at upper right of MapQuest image) was built in conjunction with the impoundment of Lake Anna. It is about five miles from the epicenter near Mineral (purple pin on map; click on map for larger version). UPDATE, Sept. 1: Reuters reports the quake rattled and moved nuclear-waste containers at the plant, recalling warnings that environmental groups made when the plant was proposed in the late 1960s,  of the Bacon's Rebellion blog writes on The Washington Post's website.


Beth Wellington said...

for more on North Anna and the quake, see:

Beth Wellington said...

BTW, the illustration for the first of these posts shows the actual location on the epicenter of the quake. It wasn't in Mineral, as marked on your map, rather to the south and slightly to the east...