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USArray Headed To Maryland To Monitor East Coast Earthquake Activity

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PatWarrenWebPhoto Pat Warren
Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Tracking earthquakes from right here in Maryland. That’s what a National Science Foundation project is attempting to do.

As Pat Warren reports, scientists are eager to see more of what we felt here in August.

On August 23 just before 1 p.m., an earthquake shakes the East Coast. Cameras capture the people and the damage as the earthquake centered in Virginia radiates through Maryland. Items flying off store shelves, businesses and homes rattled– not to mention nerves.

“I thought maybe it was just my imagination,” said a witness.

Steeples crumble on the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. And at St. Patrick’s Church in Fells Point, concrete drops like bombs on the sidewalk.

“At one point, when it hit, it broke a manhole cover,” another witness said.

If only USArray were here to record it.

“Many scientists would have absolutely loved to have captured that right in the Array itself,” Bob Woodward, director of USArray, said.

An array of 400 underground instruments is making its way across the country like a continental cat scan, measuring activity we can’t even feel.

“What are the forces at play, the earthquakes that happen, how the mountains were uplifted, where they might be going down and so forth,” Woodward said. “It lets us understand essentially how the planet works.”

It’s called earthscope, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The monitors were first planted on the West Coast, where most earthquakes in the United States occur, but the August quake here has piqued interest in what’s happening on the East Coast now.

“To have captured the Virginia earthquake right in the grid would have been fantastic,” Woodward said.

But most of us here would just as soon not have another one.

It will take a year and a half for the Array to reach Maryland.

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