A magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered in Virginia occurred at 1:51 p.m. and had local residents -- and the eastern seaboard -- reporting tremors.
"... A major earthquake ... occurred 41 mile northwest of Richmond, Va.," said Tellus Science Museum Curator Julian Gray Tuesday afternoon. "This is major news -- the White House and the Pentagon have been evacuated and there are reports of interruption to infrastructure."
The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was half a mile deep and centered near Louisa, Va., about 40 miles northwest of Richmond. No injuries were immediately reported.
"A magnitude [5.8] is huge and very rare in these intercontinental locations where there are no know major faults, but they do occasionally happen," Gray said. "The earthquake occurred at precisely 1:51 p.m. and the seismic waves arrived at Tellus in just under two minutes."
Callers began contacting The Daily Tribune News about 2 p.m. to inquire if the area had felt the rumblings from the quake.
Gray said the local tremors were light and lasted about 20 seconds, and residents had reported feeling them. "That is pretty significant for that kind of earthquake."
Two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station in the same county as the epicenter were automatically taken off line by safety systems around the time of the earthquake, said Roger Hannah, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The Dominion-operated power plant is being run off of four emergency diesel generators, which are supplying power for critical safety equipment. Hannah said the agency was not immediately aware of any damage at nuclear power plants in the Southeast.
Airports in Washington and New York issued ground stops, and the U.S. Park Service evacuated and closed all National Mall monuments and memorials.
The quake came a day after an earthquake in Colorado toppled groceries off shelves and caused minor damage to homes in the southern part of the state and in northern New Mexico. No injuries were reported as aftershocks continued Tuesday.
"We also detected the 5.3 magnitude earthquake in Colorado overnight last night," Gray said. "It is highly unlikely that these events are related."
-- Information from The Associated Press was used in this article.