Quake rattles from Maine to Md.

5.1 magnitude temblor damages some areas

April 21, 2002|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.1 that hit upstate New York early yesterday morning was felt as far south as the Baltimore area, prompting several local residents to call 911 centers to report tremors, authorities said.

The quake occurred at 6:50 a.m., about 15 miles southwest of Plattsburgh, N.Y., near the Vermont and Canadian borders. Two aftershocks, both registering at 2.6, followed at 7:04 a.m. and 7:45 a.m., said Gerald R. Baum, program chief with the Maryland Geological Survey.

Officials with emergency operations centers in Baltimore City and Baltimore, Harford and Carroll counties reported receiving one or two calls each from residents who said they felt tremors.

After the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, "people are a little nervous about rattling things and noises," Baum said.

Authorities reported that the earthquake was felt from Maine to Maryland, and there were no immediate reports of injuries. But Vermont officials received calls about cracked foundations, broken windows and two collapsed roads near the epicenter.

"When I heard that people in Baltimore were feeling it, I knew it was a pretty deep earthquake," Baum said. "The greater the depth of the quake, the greater the reach of the energy."

Seismologists measured the earthquake's depth at about 3.1 miles.

According to the Maryland Geological Survey archives, Maryland's two most recent earthquakes occurred last month and last December, both in Columbia. The magnitude for both quakes was between 1.0 and 2.0.

"With a low magnitude, it feels kind of like a big truck going too fast over a speed bump," Baum said. Columbia also experienced a series of small earthquakes in 1993.

"It's some kind of fault or weakness in the rocks," Baum said of the earthquake activity in Columbia. "Perhaps there should be some research done on it."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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