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Quake Expert Says Dual Quakes Unrelated

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People gather outside of their buildings in lower Manhattan after being evacuated following an earthquake on August 23, 2011 in New York City. The epicenter of the 5.8 earthquake was located near Louisa in central Virginia. Two nuclear power plants at the North Anna Power Station in the same county were reportedly taken offline.  (Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

People gather outside of their buildings in lower Manhattan after being evacuated following an earthquake on August 23, 2011 in New York City. The epicenter of the 5.8 earthquake was located near Louisa in central Virginia. Two nuclear power plants at the North Anna Power Station in the same county were reportedly taken offline. (Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

GOLDEN, Colo. (AP/CBS4) – The earthquake that struck Virginia on Tuesday hit an area that historically is not seismically active — and there’s no connection with another rare quake that struck Colorado, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist said.

USGS geophysicist Daniel McNamara said Tuesday’s magnitude-5.9 quake that rattled much of the East Coast cannot be traced to a specific fault.

The same applies to a magnitude-5.3 quake that struck southern Colorado late Monday, McNamara said. That area, too, has seen little seismic activity on such a large scale.

RELATED STORY: 5.3 Magnitude Earthquake Recorded In Colorado

McNamara stressed there was no connection between the two quakes. Neither was the direct product of tectonic plate movement, he said.

CBS4’s Paul Day was at the USGS in Golden when the earthquake hit the East Coast. Watch his report in the video below:

Virginia, like southern Colorado, sits atop fault lines “that may be hundreds of millions of years old that can reactivate when stresses build up,” McNamara said. “These are old faults from the distant geological past.”

“Both events are seismically large for these areas,” he said. “It is a bizarre day.”

More From CBSNews.com: Why are East Coast earthquakes so widely felt?

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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