The 5.9 magnitude earthquake which originated just outside of Richmond, Va., at 1:51 p.m. shook as far as Chautauqua County Tuesday.
The earthquake was widely felt throughout Virginia and Maryland, south to North Carolina and north to New York City but some in Dunkirk, almost 400 miles away, also felt the tremor.
Although some buildings in D.C. were evacuated due to the shaking, in Dunkirk many people described the 10 second vibrations as "strange."
People who came out on the street after an earthquake look up at a window that cracked during the quake on Market Street in Philadelphia, Tuesday. A 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island, New York City and Martha's Vineyard, Mass., where President Barack Obama is vacationing.
Kim Robbins, the secretary for the district attorney in Dunkirk City Hall, said she was in her second floor office when she felt the shaking.
"It was very strange. I was sitting in my office and I could feel my chair and my feet vibrating. I thought people were moving something heavy or a truck was going by but it wasn't," she explained.
Lisa Mackowiak, the secretary for the City of Dunkirk Department of Public Works was in a neighboring office and reported feeling the vibrations in her feet as well.
Dunkirk resident Jim Bunge of Eagle Street described a similar experience.
"I was sitting and watching baseball on TV in my chair when I felt vibrations in my back. It was strange, it lasted for 5 to 10 seconds," he said in a phone interview.
Alice Waters was at a friend's house on Martin Street in Dunkirk when she felt the tremor.
"I was sitting in a rocking chair and my friend's 13-year-old daughter was just running up the stairs and I thought that was it but it was different kinds of vibrations," she described. "It was the first time I've felt something like that."
Events with magnitudes greater than about 4.6 are strong enough to be recorded by a seismograph anywhere in the world. At UB's Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research the data was collected and MCEER director Andre Filiatrault, PhD, commented on the quake.
He explained why so many people found it unfamiliar sensation of the tremor "strange."
"The earthquake was moderate but significant because we haven't had very many earthquakes of this magnitude in the eastern United States or eastern Canada," Filiatrault explained.
He added the quake's impact was probably more psychological than physical.
"A good reminder that earthquakes can happen in the eastern part of North America," he said.
Filiatrault said that the data collected from this quake will help scientists better predict where earthquakes may occur and help engineers design more durable buildings.
Local police were contacted and said that there was no reported damage due to the tremors felt earlier in the day.