An earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale centered near Mineral, Va., 83 miles southwest of Washington D.C., at 1:51 p.m. sent shock waves across the East End this afternoon.
East Hampton Town Police Capt. Mike Sarlo said police received calls from residents asking what had occurred, but there had been no reports of problems or incidents related to the earthquake. The department would soon receive an advisory from the state police and National Weather Service, he said.
The Richter scale measures earthquakes according to their magnitude, beginning with a designation of 2.0 -- a quake whose effects are felt only nearby, if at all -- and ranging to a 9.5 rating.
An increase of one unit on the Richter scale corresponds to a 10-fold increase in the amplitude of the seismic waves that shake the ground. According to the Richter scale, an earthquake under 6.0 can cause "at most slight damage to well-designed buildings," but can cause major damage to poorly constructed buildings. Quakes measuring 6.1 to 6.9 can cause destruction in areas up to 100 kilometers from their epicenter.
A 1960 earthquake measuring 9.5 on the Richter scale was the largest recorded earthquake. The earthquake in Japan in March this year measured 9.0.
Today's earthquake was felt across the Eastern Seaboard, and, according to The New York Times, as far north as Concord, N.H. It was reportedly felt as far south as North Carolina, and as far west as Detroit. In downtown Washington, D.C., the Capitol buildings and White House were evacuated.
According to a United States Geological Survey official quoted in The Washington Post, aftershocks are expected. The Post reported that the director of the U.S.G.S., Marcia McNutt, cautioned that what was felt earlier today might be just a "foreshock. If it's a foreshock, then the worst is yet to come," she said.
The East Coast quake follows two earthquakes in Colorado, one today measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale, and another yesterday that measured 4.6.