- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 20, 2001

COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) More small earthquakes could follow the temblor that struck the Columbia area on Tuesday, a state geologist said.
"In Maryland, they usually come in swarms," said Gerald Baum, a program director at the Maryland Geological Survey.
However, no reports of aftershocks had been received by noon yesterday, he said.
About a dozen residents of Columbia's Owen Brown village area called police on Tuesday, reporting an apparent explosion. No damage was cited.
Data from a newly installed seismograph in Reisterstown was being analyzed yesterday, but the quake is believed to have registered less than 2.0 on the Richter scale, Mr. Baum said.
Geologists also were still trying to pinpoint the epicenter of Tuesday's quake, which occurred at about 1:30 p.m. Howard County fire officials said most of the calls came from southeast Columbia residents.
Researchers at the University of Memphis and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University also are analyzing the data, Mr. Baum said.
"It was probably shallow, that's why the surrounding seismograph stations didn't pick it up," he added.
The new seismograph is so sensitive that it registered a quake in Taiwan just before midnight Monday.
In 1993, about 20 small tremors occurred between March and November in the Columbia area, Mr. Baum said.
The largest, on March 14, 1993, registered 2.7 on the Richter scale.
Columbia and the northern parts of Cecil and Harford counties are the two most seismically active areas in the state, he said.
"We're not California, that's for sure, but earthquakes in Maryland aren't unheard of."
John Frank, who oversees Howard County's emergency management services, said many residents were not sure of what happened, some reporting a thump or a sound that resembled a car backfiring.
Cheryl Conn, manager of the Dollar Tree in Owen Brown Village Center, was surprised to learn it was an earthquake.
"Really? That was an earthquake?" she asked. "There's construction work nearby, and I just assumed that's what it was."

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