A small earthquake, centered in Germantown, Md. occurred at 5:04 a.m. EDT today, July 16, and its vibrations were felt from West Virginia to Bridgeport, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center located in Greenbelt lies about 25 miles east-southeast of today's small earthquake and reported no damages. In fact, there were no reports of damage throughout Maryland.
The earthquake registered 3.6 on the Richter scale, according to the U.S. Geological Survey , the agency that monitors quakes around the U.S. USGS reported that the quake occurred today, Friday, July 16, 2010 at 5:04:47 a.m. EDT. The quake originated 5 kilometers deep and it was centered at 39.167°North, 77.252°West, in Germantown, Md. That latitude and longitude positions the quake's epicenter just west of Interstate 270 and south of Maryland state route 119.
Although earthquakes are monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA conducts research in various earthquake projects. That research is done in earthquake country, however, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., just outside of Los Angeles. NASA measures, computes, and models crustal deformation using GPS and Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar from its airborne unmanned aerial vehicle SAR platform and international satellites.
"Crustal deformation occurs both as a result of earthquakes and quietly," said Andrea Donnellan, a geophysicist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. and a research professor at the University of Southern California and NASA's Applied Sciences Program Area Co-Lead for Natural Disasters.
NASA funds several projects that integrate the GPS and InSAR data into models that provide insight into fault activity and earthquake potential, and Donnellan is the Principal Investigator of NASA's QuakeSim project, as well as supercomputing, earthquake modeling, and UAVSAR projects.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the quake was too small for NASA to detect. The last earthquake in the region occurred in May of 2008 and was even smaller, registering a magnitude of 2.0 on the Richter Scale.