Tampa, Florida - The earthquake hit just before 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday and registered 5.8 on the Richter scale. It lasted up to 45 seconds. Its epicenter was reported just west of Mineral, Virginia, which is 80 miles south of Washington, DC.
The earthquake sent shockwaves throughout out the country and right here in the Bay area because it's the last thing most people would expect.
Pictures: Virginia Earthquake
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On Tuesday evening, it was a real life lesson for Professor Chuck Connor's Natural Hazards class at the University of South Florida, where they spent a portion of their first day of class talking about it.
Professor Connor says, "Well, I mean, obviously today it's surprising that the earthquake happened because earthquakes in the Eastern U.S. are so rare, but on a geological time scale it's not unusual at all. In fact, there have been lots of relatively larger earthquakes in the Eastern U.S."
Still, the earthquake rattled a lot of nerves. A camera focused on the White House bounced and, as the ground shook, it brought work to a halt. A news conference that was being recorded by news crews was interrupted as people scrambled for the door.
The earthquake forced the evacuation of the White House and the Pentagon. People from New York to North Carolina say they felt it.
Professor Connor says, "This earthquake was much, much smaller than the typical large magnitude earthquakes we get in California or say in Japan, of course. No need to panic. I mean, it's a very interesting geological event. It is kind of normal for the earth."