A minor earthquake was detected yesterday morning in Arbutus, but there was no damage and no reports of injuries, officials said.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that a quake measuring 1.0 on the Richter scale struck about a mile west of the southwestern Baltimore County community about 8:30 a.m.
The tremor, reported on the U.S. Geological Survey's Web site, was detected at a depth of about three miles on a seismograph at the Soldiers Delight Reporting Station.
Earthquakes below 2.0 on the Richter scale occur occasionally along the East Coast, but they're seldom noticed, said Diane Noserale, a spokeswoman for the agency.
"It's rare something like that will even get anyone's attention," Noserale said. "A magnitude 1 can happen anywhere, anytime."
In Arbutus, there were no reported problems, officials said. "I didn't feel it and, I've been up since 7 this morning," Patrick O'Doherty, a firefighter with the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department, said last night.
Maryland is an unlikely site for a major earthquake, experts say.
Most of them occur along the edges of major geologic plates that divide the Earth's crust and grind against each other.
The state recorded three quakes between 1939 and 1990. In 1993 there a flurry of nearly two dozen small quakes rattled Howard County, but they caused no damage.
The last recorded earthquake hit the region in February 2005, when a series of tremors that registered at 2.0 shook Dundalk Middle School and the surrounding area.