Virginia quake deals seismic surprise A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in rural Virginia on 23 August caused disruption across broad swathes of the eastern United States, where it was the most significant tremor in a century. Major earthquakes are rare in the region because its crust is old and mostly stable, but when quakes do occur, the strong crustal rock transmits seismic waves with relatively little loss of energy, so they can cover vast distances. Shaking was felt along the eastern seaboard, from Florida to Nova Scotia in Canada; and the quake caused an automatic shutdown at the nearby North Anna nuclear power plant in Mineral, Virginia. There was some damage to buildings in urban centres, including Washington DC (its cathedral is pictured). See for more.