Little Earthquakes

This August 23rd marked one year since the Virginia earthquake of 2011. It wasn’t a huge earthquake compared to others I’d been in, but for this area it was practically historic.

(Oh sorry, were you looking for Tori Amos’ “Little Earthquakes?”)

I was sitting in my office in Georgetown at the time, and felt the building shudder, no harder than if someone had been jumping vigorously in the next room. Then another familiar shudder, hard enough to rattle the windows and knock over some of the toys on my shelf — and that was it. While coworkers milled in the hallway, there was enough time to post a quick earthquake update to WLDC before the alarm bells signaled a general evacuation.

Crowds of people milled in the street, mobile networks were clogged, Metro was running at reduced speed, all infrastructure had generally ground to a halt, and it was pretty clear the workday was done, so I set out on foot to Arlington to pick up Amy from the library and get on Metro farther down the line from the general crush of fleeing workers.

Our part of Fairfax had felt the earthquake a lot harder than DC, with neighbors describing much more shaking than I had felt in Georgetown. We had a few drywall cracks and stud bolt popouts (later fixed and painted over in repairs paid for by building management insurance), and in the storage basement a thin crack had opened in the floor.

Storage Basement Earthquake Damage
Earthquake damage

The National Cathedral was damaged, as was the Washington Monument.

That night I was awakened by a rumble and another shudder. A mild aftershock, but nothing more.

Additional 2011 Virginia Earthquake linkage: