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Quake Rattles Sag Harbor

Posted on 23 August 2011

quake epicenter

Blue square indicates epicenter of quake near Richmond, Virginia

by Courtney M. Holbrook

An earthquake hit Sag Harbor at about 2 p.m. today. The 5.9 magnitude earthquake reportedly originated in Virginia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Shocks were transmitted up to Sag Harbor, and as far north as Rhode Island.

“It’s happened so recently that we’re still collecting seismic graphs and examining the facts,” said Prof. Daniel M. Davis, a professor in the geosciences department at Stony Brook University. “Right now, it’s so recent, all of our information is extremely preliminary.”

Davis noted there was reason to believe the quake felt in Sag Harbor was consistent with the recent information from the U.S. Geological Survey.

The U.S.G.S. placed the earthquake as a 5.9 on the Richter Scale. The Richter Scale analyzes earthquakes for the amount of energy they release. A 5.9 is usually considered a mid to higher rating, according to Davis.

“Given that it probably originated from Virginia, we’re far away from the major activity,” Davis said. “But it’s not too surprising we felt the results. It probably started with fault line activity at the foothills of the Appalachian mountains.”

For many Sag Harbor citizens, the earthquake was a moment of excitement in an otherwise sunny, peaceful day.

“I was standing at work, and all of a sudden, the chandelier and mirror began to shake,” said Laura Gevanter, who works at Bond No. 9. “I felt like my body had gone off its equilibrium.”

Gevanter has lived in Southern California, and so immediately knew “exactly what was going on. We were having an earthquake in Sag Harbor.”

That sense of shock also affected Adin Doyle, who works at the Romany Kramoris Gallery. Staring into space at the Gallery, Doyle noticed the artwork “that was hanging down started wobbling. I didn’t see the building falling down or anything, so I figured it must be an earthquake.”

Doyle has only experienced earthquakes when he spent time in Utah. He noted that many people in Sag Harbor might not have experienced an earthquake before.

“It’s not something you usually see out here,” Doyle said. “At least I wasn’t imagining it.”

Earthquakes are not commonplace on the East End, unlike their high frequency on the West Coast. Davis noted earthquakes on the East Coast stem from moving tectonic places in the Appalachian Mountains, an older landform. The older age makes tectonic movements less common than those on the West Coast. However, Davis said it was not unusual for Sag Harbor to feel an earthquake originating in Virginia.

“The crust on the East Coast is good at transmitting seismic movements across a great distance,” Davis said. “It’s really old. When rocks rub against each other on a daily basis, they warm up the same way as when you rub your hands … this makes them efficient, because they’ve been rubbing for so long.”

As Sag Harbor citizens return to their daily activities, many are returning to their normal activities.

“It was crazy how people were freaking out online,” Gevanter said. “But I think it’s freaky because we don’t expect it in [Sag Harbor] … it was definitely a new experience for many.”

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2 Responses to “Quake Rattles Sag Harbor”

  1. Ruledbyfools says:

    Sorry I didn’t feel a thing.

  2. Barry Cummings says:

    Thought I was having a dizzy spell. I’m from Colorado, where earthquakes are common, so realized pretty quickly what it was.

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