SEPTEMBER 26, 2011 The 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the U.S. East Coast on August 23, 2011, did more damage to the Washington Monument than had been previously disclosed, and, as a result, the Washington Monument National Monument will be closed indefinitely, the National Park Service said today.
In this newly released footage from the National Park Service, taken during the earthquake by a security camera near the top of the Washington Monument, tourists run down the steps as debris falls from the ceiling. You can see the structure shaking violently, and visitors falling and scrambling for safety.
During the August 23 quake, the monument’s elevator system was damaged. It had been operating only to the 250-foot level of the 555-foot monument before today, the Park Service said, adding that the mechanism is believed to have been damaged by its counterweights during the quake.
The Park Service plans to send an Alaskan rock climber, Brandon Latham from Denali National Park in Alaska, rappelling down the sides of the Washington Monument beginning tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., to aid engineers in conducting closer inspections.
Bottom line: The Washington Monument is closed indefinitely due to previously undisclosed earthquake damage from the August 23, 2011, 5.8-magnitude earthquake on the U.S. East Coast.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.