Folks in the county may have felt the earth move under their feet, or felt their homes shake, Wednesday evening, as an earthquake was reported near Tuscarora Township in Juniata County at 8:30 p.m.
According to information from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), an earthquake that is considered a 3.4 on the Richter scale occurred Wednesday just 11 miles south southwest of Mifflintown.
Robert Sanders, a geophysicist with USGS, explained what a 3.4 on the Richter scale actually means.
“The scale goes from zero to 10, with 10 being catastrophic, so this was a relatively minor-sized earthquake on the scale,” he said. “For communities that were in the epicenter, the shaking may have been hard enough to knock things off of shelves, but any serious structural damage is highly unlikely with an event of this magnitude.”
A report from the Huntingdon County Emergency Management Agency noted there were no injuries, damages or power outages reported in the county as a result of the earthquake, as well as no reports of significant structural damage.
There were over 100 comments on The Daily News Facebook page regarding the earthquake, and area residents reported they felt the quake from as far north as Jackson’s Corner to Saltillo and Three Springs.
However, there were those who said they didn’t feel anything at all, which Sanders said is common with a minor earthquake.
“It depends on what you were doing,” he said. “If you were still, or lying in bed watching TV, you may have felt it,” he said. “You may have had animals that were more in tune to it, so they would have noticed it.
“If your home is on solid bedrock, you may have felt it more aggressively, or if you were in a high-rise building on a higher floor, you may have felt the sway as opposed to being on the first floor of a building,” Sanders added. “It’s not uncommon for one person to feel something and another person to say, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’”
As to the cause of this particular earthquake, Sanders said it’s too early to get any specific information.
“For this particular area, it takes a lot more time to go in and see what may have caused this particular event to occur,” said Sanders.
However, there have been more earthquakes in this part of Pennsylvania since 1973 than one may think.
“It looks like there have been around 100 earthquakes since the 1970s,” he said, including a number of earthquakes that were around a three on the Richter scale, and one was around a four.
“But, they are relatively far apart on the time scale,” Sander added. “It’s not like in places like California or Oklahoma, where you would have earthquakes like this every couple of weeks.”
The last time many county residents remember feeling an earthquake was Aug. 23, 2011, when a 5.8 in magnitude earthquake occurred in the Piedmont region of Virginia.