Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake shakes Randolph Campus for a few seconds

UPDATE: The Virginia Tech website that hosts the data from Randolph College's seismograph is online again, and you can view the graphs of data taken during Tuesday's earthquake.

We heard this morning that the estimate of the earthquake's power has been reduced to 5.8.

And Tatiana Gilstrap's comments on the earthquake were featured in news stories by WSET Channel 13 and The News & Advance.

Original Post:

The Randolph College campus experienced tremors from the 5.9-magnitude earthquake that shook much of Virginia and the East Coast on Tuesday.

People on campus felt the quake, but there were no reports of injury or property damage on campus.

There was a hint of irony in the situation for first-year students who were in an introductory science course. On Monday, Tatiana Gilstrap, an environmental science professor whose research focuses on seismology, was teaching them about the physics of earthquakes.

Only about 24 hours later, the actual earthquake hit.

The students were in the midst of presentations about math and physics projects they had completed. Gilstrap, who was observing the presentations, said the Martin Science building just started quaking.

The building has felt its share of shaking due to road and utility construction nearby, so at first Gilstrap did not think an earthquake was happening. But when it lasted for more than a few seconds, she knew more than construction was going on.

Once the shaking stopped, the students continued their presentations. Gilstrap left soon, though, because local news organizations were seeking interviews with her. She reviewed data from the College’s seismological station—before Virginia Tech’s website that hosts the data went down due to high traffic volumes.

She said the seismograph provided “a beautiful record” of what transpired.