Earthquake Chances in Florida

August 24, 2011 by Julie Montanaro

An FSU professor says the earthquake that shook cities from Georgia to Maine is probably a once in a lifetime event.

And if you are waiting for the earth to move in Florida, you may be waiting even longer.

FSU Geology Professor Jim Tull is an expert in tectonics and faults and routinely takes FSU students to do research in the Apalachians.

The magnitude of Tuesday's earthquake came as quite a surprise.

"There are smaller earthquakes that occur up to New York, down into North Georgia and Virginia where this one was, but it is unlikely that in our lifetime we're going to see another of this magnitude, 5.8," Tull said.

The east coast quake sent liquor bottles crashing to the floor in Maryland, people pouring into the streets of New York and it shook some of Washington DC's most famous landmarks.

Tallahassee native and FSU grad Ryan Powers was in the U.S. Capitol when the earthquake hit. We talked with him via Skype.

"I saw the wooden divider above my computer start shaking back and forth," Powers said. "The initial reaction is being here in DC and so close to the capitol is that it was some sort of bomb. An earthquake was the last thing from my mind being from Florida."

Tull says Floridians don't have to worry much about earthquakes in the Sunshine State. The U.S. Geological Survey lists just a few of note in the past century. One was in Captiva in 1948 and another was in Quincy in 1952.

The most recent was a 3.5 quake off the coast of Pensacola earlier this year.

"So Florida does have small earthquakes but usually they're not detected by humans, they're detected by seismometers. The likelihood of anything that anyone would actually feel that's produced in Florida is not very high," Tull said.

For more information on earthquakes in Florida, Georgia and other states, check out the USGS web site: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/


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