- The Washington Times - Friday, July 16, 2010

A mild earthquake struck Montgomery County early Friday morning but did not cause any significant damage or injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the 3.6 magnitude quake struck at 5:04 a.m. in Germantown, Md. The USGS said the depths of the earthquake was 3.1 miles.

Germantown resident Michael Young, a husband and father of two children, told The Washington Times that he and his family slept through the quake, but “Once I learned about it, I immediately was concerned about the safety of my family. Earthquakes in Maryland are a rare occurrence.”

Mr. Young said with all eyes on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and talk of a possible burst since the broken well has been capped, the quake so close by his family’s home left him even more unsettled.

This is the first earthquake to hit Maryland since 2007 when a minor tremblor struck about five miles northwest of Baltimore, according to USGS.

Diane Noserale, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Geological Survey, said Friday’s earthquake marks the 15th quake the region has experienced during the past 30 years. The previous 14 quakes were less powerful than the one on Friday, she said.

“The most recent earthquake in this region was a magnitude 2.0 event on May 6, 2008 near Annandale, Virginia,” Ms. Noserale said in an e-mail to The Times.

On Friday, the quake hit at 5:04 a.m. and was centered in the Rockville, Md., area, Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center, told the Associated Press.

By noon, more than 15,000 people had logged on to the U.S. Geological Survey’s website to report feeling it, some from as far away as Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Gerasimos Michalitsianos, a geology student at the University of Maryland, College Park, told the AP he was sitting on his couch looking at e-mails when the temblor occurred.

“I didn’t actually know that I was in an earthquake,” said Mr. Michalitsianos, who is studying postseismic relaxation, how the ground changes following major earthquakes.

Mr. Michalitsianos said he only found out he’d been through an earthquake when he looked online.

“It was a rare treat to see an earthquake occur here on the East Coast and to actually feel it,” he said.

After talking to reporters on the Gulf oil spill Friday morning, President Obama was asked whether he felt the quake. A smiling Mr. Obama told reporters he didn’t feel it.

Police in Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Md., said they received many calls from residents Friday morning, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, the AP reported.

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