The Virginia Earthquake and Your Well

Posted: August 24, 2011

The recent earthquake in Virginia shook nature's plumbing system, but should only have minimal impacts on area well water.

The earthquake on Tuesday August 23 should have only minor effects on local wells. Measured at magnitude 5.8 on the Richter scale, the earthquake, centered near Richmond, Virginia, was neither severe enough nor near enough to produce lasting effects in the York area.

Based on examination of records from the United States Geological Survey test wells in Adams, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties for the period, only Franklin showed a drop of approximately 0.2 feet (about 3 inches). None of the other wells showed any noticeable change attributable to the earthquake.

Residents may experience turbidity (cloudiness) in their well water following the earthquake that will clear rapidly. While cloudy water will cause filters to clog faster, it should be very short lived, and should not pose a health hazard. If you are testing your well yearly and maintaining the well and any treatment systems regularly, there should be no problem.

Some slight increase or decrease in the well level might be seen. The only report received of effects on wells came from Franklin county, where one resident reported cloudiness in the water that cleared within half an hour.

Please contact Penn State Extension if you have any questions about changes in your well.

Contact Information

Diane Oleson, M.S.
  • Extension Educator, Renewable Natural Resources
Phone: 717-840-7429