• 08.24.11

Watch The Eastern Earthquake Sweep Across America

While it may have elicited shrugs from jaded earthquake regulars, yesterday’s surprising east coast earthquake still packed a seismological punch.

Though they’re now enduring the ridicule of people from more earthquake enabled locations, east coast denizens did feel quite a bit of shaking yesterday, enough to register for people as far north as Canada and far into the Midwest. For seismometers–slightly more sensitive than human perception–the effect was even more pronounced:


Each dot represents one tremor detector from the Earth Scope Project’s USArray. Red means the ground was moving up, blue means down. The 5.9 magnitude quake sends a wave across the country, with the ground moving 22 microns in either direction. You can see the wave move across the country all the way to the West Coast. In fact, the tremors seem to magnify around Los Angeles and near New Orleans, where the ground keeps moving long after the East Coast.

You’ll note that Earth Scope’s seismometers are concentrated in California and a band through the Midwest, with very few at the earthquake’s epicenter in Virgina. Even the seismologists, it seems, aren’t expecting to be measuring a lot of activity on the eastern seaboard.

About the author

Morgan is a senior editor at Fast Company. He edits the Ideas section, formerly