"HuffPost's Tom Zeller reports:
Dr. Lynn Sykes, an earthquake expert at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said that while Tuesday’s 5.8 temblor near Mineral, Va., was a new high for the so-called central Virginia seismic zone, it ought not be thought of as a harbinger of things to come.
“We should read this as just another earthquake,” Sykes said. He added, however, that it should serve as something of a “wake-up call.” No one is alive who can recall the 5.2 magnitude earthquake that hit New York City in 1884, Sykes said, but they do happen. And easterners, he said, are complacent in the sense that critical infrastructure -- including nuclear power plants -- east of the Mississippi are typically not designed to withstand high-magnitude earthquakes.
The Indian Point nuclear power plant just north of New York City is designed to withstand a 6.1 magnitude quake, for example.
“Back in the 1960s, when the first designs for these plants were put forth, the idea was that this area is not as active as others -- and that’s true,” Sykes said. “But they went ahead and designed reactors for quite a small earthquake.”
Where were you when Earthquake 2011 hit and did you feel it?