Ancient fault likely caused Wednesday's earthquake - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Ancient fault likely caused Wednesday's earthquake


(WVVA) A rare 3.1 magnitude earthquake rattled southern West Virginia and southwest Virginia shortly after 1:30 Tuesday afternoon.

Dr. Joe Allen, Professor of Geology at Concord University says today's earthquake was likely caused by old faults fracturing.

These ancient faults appeared when Africa collided with North America nearly 300 million years ago as the Appalachian mountains formed.

He says that a tremendous amount of energy was released today along the fault.

“It's not all released at a point, but is released along the fault. All that energy goes into heating up the fault plane and creating fractures and breaking the fault,” said Allen.

Dr. Allen says that only about 1 to 2 percent of the energy released along the fault is radiated out as seismic waves.

He also says California earthquakes dampen out quickly, while waves from eastern United States earthquakes travel further due the type of bedrock and soil found.

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