The Trembling Earth

now at

Footage of the 8/23/2011 Virginia earthquake

Here’s what happens when an earthquake hits an unsuspecting region.

In a previous post I focused on the context of the M5.8 Virginia earthquake of 23 August, and took special care to explain why the earthquake was felt over such great distances. Let’s have a look at how it felt in various places:

We’ll begin with what I think is the most fascinating video from this earthquake. In this clip a video conference is interrupted by the shaking. You get a good sense for the surprise as people register what is happening, but the fun doesn’t stop there. As this conference room composes themselves, their teleconferencing coworkers deal with the quake as it gradually ripples across the country. The whole lot of ’em slowly and dramatically realize just how significant this earthquake was. It’s actually rather scary to watch their realization unfold.

Next we have a fairly breathless teenager who had the presence of mind to grab his camera while his house in suburban Maryland rattled around him.

Here a brother and sister are filming a little personal business promo when the quake rattles through the house they’re in in D.C. Mind the language.

In perhaps my favorite coincidence ever, this guy is watching a house get haunted in Paranormal Activity 2 when his own house lurches in the quake.

This next family is particularly in denial about what’s going on. It’s a lazy day in Maryland, and only the cat and the visiting friend sense the P-waves. Reality strikes them when the surface waves come rippling through.

This guy was testing out his new camera when the earthquake rolled through Chantilly, VA

Here’s an unfortunately audio-less video from a sound stage in Maryland.

As the quake ripples through Mount Vernon, George Washington’s early estate, we hear rusting, jingling, and rattling, and tourists move quickly away from the building.

A motion-sensitive surveillance camera on the 7th floor of Camden, NJ’s city hall was activated by the quake and recorded most of the shaking.

In this pretty cool video, the neighborhood kids are practicing whiffle ball when the earthquake rustles trees and rattles homes all around them.

There are also a few home surveillance videos of dogs responding to the earthquake. They all seem much more sensitive to the subtle vibration of the Primary waves than humans are.

Dogs 1&2:

Dogs 3&4:

and our poor Dog 5, additionally helpless and bewildered because he’s wearing the Cone of Shame:

Frager’s Hardware Store in D.C. has four great, high-definition surveillance videos of the quake happening, including the following. The fun starts after the 1-minute mark in each of them.

This user has a suite of videos from inside the top of the Washington Monument as it gets jerked around by the earthquake.

The final video I have to show is from Brooklyn, on the outskirts of the area affected by the quake. You can see just how subtle the quake’s effects are at this distance, but it’s nonetheless a very unusual disturbance, and the sudden fluidity of the ground is a rather disconcerting sensation. Fortunately there’s soothing guitar music.

That’s pretty much my exhaustive collection. I know of a few more surveillance camera shots but they’re either poor quality or don’t show much at all. If you know of any others, don’t hesitate to direct us to them in the comments!


6 responses to “Footage of the 8/23/2011 Virginia earthquake

  1. parclair November 9, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Thank you. This is the nicest collection of earthquake videos I’ve seen. I do love the “I’m used to hurricanes. I’ve never had an unscheduled event before’

  2. Uncle Tim November 9, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Thanks, Austin. I rate it 5 stars, although the occassional Google ad pop-up saying a Chinese lady is looking for a date almost made me have to give it a 4! (Or maybe I should have given it a 4 but switch to the 5 because of that? It’s nice to know someone still wants me, besides Lorrie, at almost 59 years old! lol) It’s really fun to play them all at once with everyone’s reactions going on. (And “No,” I have not had a couple beers!)

  3. sc100 November 9, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Great videos. Here are some more.

    priceless reactions from cute girls:

    TV anchor reactions:

    This is hilarious:

    Also, here’s a great earthquake reaction video from last year’s 7.2 Baja California earthquake:

  4. terry (@shortstack81) November 10, 2011 at 1:34 am

    That first video is actually kind of cool. The ground’s stopped shaking at wherever in the DC area that was shot, and then their conference participants hundreds of miles away report it, after they just saw it shake at the first location.

  5. Nancy - Grandma November 11, 2011 at 1:32 am

    I love your Blog! It is so informative and complete.

    Signed….You know who.

  6. Erika A November 12, 2011 at 3:26 am

    This is fantastic! Thank you for doing all the legwork for this comprehensive collection! Utterly fascinating from a science perspective and a humorous glimpse into human reaction. I did earthquake education for two years here in California and wish I could have shown some of these to people who’d never been in an earthquake before!

    The guy playing guitar has one of the best puzzled looks I’ve ever seen on video.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: