CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — You don’t normally hear much about earthquakes in West Virginia, since most of the state is nowhere near a fault line. However, a 2.6-magnitude earthquake was recorded near Point Pleasant over the weekend, and as another massive 6.4 magnitude quake hit Turkey on Monday, you might be wondering what the odds are that you could feel one from your West Virginia home.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Quaternary Faults map, the only area of a fault line in West Virginia is a small section of Class B fault area in the counties of Mercer, Summers and Monroe.
According to the USGS’s West Virginia earthquakes map, most of the reported quakes in West Virginia were actually ground-shaking explosions. While West Virginia has had earthquakes as large as a 4.7 magnitude near Welch in 1976, according to Earthquake Track, most quakes in the state are small and cause little or no damage, like the one near Point Pleasant on Friday.
In roughly the past year, there have been three earthquakes in West Virginia:
- 2.6 magnitude near Point Pleasant (Mason County) last week
- 2.0 magnitude near Marlinton (Pocahontas County) in August 2022
- 1.9 magnitude near Union (Monroe County) in December 2021
In a 2019 interview after a quake near Beckley, then West Virginia University professor of Geology Jaime Toro said that many of West Virginia’s earthquakes, including a series of quakes in Braxton County in the 2010s, are not naturally occurring.
In the 2019 WVU interview, he said, “West Virginia is tectonically very stable because it is located far from the plate boundaries and far from major active faults, so earthquakes are rare in the state. Small natural earthquakes do occur once in a while because all of the Earth’s surface is under some degree of stress and the rocks have ancient planes of weakness which will slip eventually. In the past 40 years there have only been about 25 quakes that were larger than magnitude 2.5 in West Virginia.”
For reference, earthquakes below a 2.5 magnitude are usually not even felt and those below 4 or 5 five usually cause zero damage, according to USGS.