A weird day for earthquakes in the U.S., but that's, um, normal

Mineral cleanup 
Lost in the hullabaloo about the 5.8 quake in Virginia on Tuesday was the fact that there were about 90 other earthquakes across the United States that same day, including a 5.3 quake in Colorado.

Of course, only a few of those were detectable by people, and only 12 were above a 3.0 magnitude.

In other words, it was a typical seismologic day -- in terms of sheer numbers of tremors -- in the United States; what was slightly out of the ordinary was the magnitude and location of the earthquakes, said Rafael Abreu, a U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist, in an interview with The Times.

Photos: Earthquake hits the East Coast

Virginia's earthquake was of rare strength for the area. Colorado's quake was one of nine earthquakes in that state on Tuesday, including the 5.3 jolt about 7 miles from Cokedale.

Not to be forgotten: Upstate New York was shaken a bit by a 2.2 quake early Tuesday near Altamont. Jones, Okla., got a 2.8 jolt. And Alaska -- well, Alaska gets a few earthquakes just about every day.

But not to worry, most of the earthquakes were unrelated -- not a part of some grander doomsday equation.

"The fact that they occurred together is purely a coincidence," Abreu said.

 The fact that upstate New York's shake occurred only hours before Virginia's doesn't mean the events are connected.

 "There is no geological relation," Abreu said.

As for Colorado, it's been having a rash of quakes over the past few days; on Monday, the state was hit with a 4.6 quake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

But all in all, it still made for an unusual day at work for Abreu.

"It was a strange day," he said. "But Mother Nature teaches us something new every single day."


Earthquake damages National Cathedral

Quake may be strongest in central Virginia history

East Coast earthquake's epicenter near a nuclear plant

-- Stephen Ceasar

Photo: Matthew Stewardson cleans up at Main Street Supply Plumbing and Electrical in Mineral, Va., near the epicenter of the quake. Credit: AP Photo / The Free Lance-Star, Sabrina Schaeffer

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Rene Lynch has been an editor and writer in Metro, Sports, Business, Calendar and Food. @ReneLynch

As an editor and reporter, Michael Muskal has covered local, national, economic and foreign issues at three newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. @latimesmuskal

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