9 things to know about earthquakes in Maryland

Cracks from the August 2011 earthquake spread in the basement of the Baltimore Basilica, six years after a $40 million restoration of the oldest Catholic cathedral in the nation. A device monitors structural shifts.

Marylanders awoke Sunday to the news that an earthquake was recorded between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. — a rare occurance in the region. But not the first.

Many in the region will recall the Virginia-based earthquake of 2011 as one of the worst picture-adjusting, window-rattling tremors in memory — and they would be right.


But here's a look at how Saturday's quake compares to others record in and around Maryland:

— A 5.8 magnitude quake, centered in 35 miles northwest of Richmond, Va., in August 2011, one of the strongest ever felt in Maryland.


— The U.S. Geological Survey says the strongest Maryland earthquake on official record was a 3.1 magnitude tremor in 1978 near Hancock in Washington County.

— However, a 3.6 magnitude quake in July 2010 in Germantown was felt by as many as 3 million people in the region.

— A 1939 earthquake that centered on northern Baltimore County was estimated between 3.5 and 3.7 magnitude.

— The earliest earthquake on the survey's record was in the spring of 1758. That one, with an Annapolis origin, was estimated to be a magnitude 3.5.

— A January, 1990 earthquake just west of Baltimore registered a 2.5 magnitude.

— Only one earthquake is on record in Ocean City: Oct. 15, 1928.

— Twice in the 1970s, epicenters in the Delaware area were the cause of rumblings felt in Maryland. A Feb. 1972 tremor in Wilmington was felt in Cecil County. And a year later, in Feb. 1973, the shaking from a minor earthquake near the border of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania was reported throughout northeastern Maryland.

— Residents in Maryland three times have reported feeling rumblings from earthquakes centered in southern Canada in the first half of the 20th century. Baltimore and Westminster were on the southernmost reach of a strong Sept., 1944 quake centered in the St. Lawrence River area. The tremor caused about $2 million damage around its epicenter. In Feb. 1925, a magnitude 7.0 quake centered near Murray Bay, Canada lightly rattled the Maryland area. In Nov. 1935, a magnitude 6.25 quake near Timiskaming, Canada, resulted in only minor damage, but was felt in various Maryland communities.


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Source: USGS & Baltimore Sun archives