New York City Shaken by a “Light” Earthquake, Generating Surprise along East Coast and Some Fun Memes

2024-04-05 16:00:03

It seems like only yesterday I was writing about how the rigorous building codes in Taiwan prevented major destruction and high death tolls in the wake of the powerful Richter Scale 7.7 earthquake that hit the island nation.

Oh wait…it was yesterday.

Clearly, Earth seems to be busy with some interesting seismic activity as New York City and the surrounding region was hit with a “light” earthquake today.

A 4.8-magnitude earthquake struck near New York City on Friday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey said, shaking buildings up and down the East Coast and surprising residents in an area that rarely experiences notable seismic activity.

The quake’s epicenter was in Tewksbury in central New Jersey, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of New York City. It occurred just after 10:20 a.m. ET (1420 GMT) at a depth of 4.7 kilometers (2.9 miles), the USGS said.

No major damage was reported, but New York Governor Kathy Hochul warned of the possibility of aftershocks at a news conference. Engineering teams are inspecting roads and bridges.
“This is one of the largest earthquakes on the East Coast in the last century,” she said.

Given that the quake’s epicenter was close to the nation’s media capital, there has been a great deal of attention given to this event. However, as I teach earthquake safety regularly in my day job, I would like to point out that this shaker would be classified as “light”.

Earthquakes of this magnitude cause unstable objects to fall and unstable people to get hysterical.

As California has a number of active fault lines and is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire that is robustly geologically active. most of us would brush off the 4.8 Magnitude shaker and carry on with the day. East Coasters, unaccustomed to a moving Earth, are more sensitive.

Mr. Adams, a Democrat in his third year in office, acknowledged that earthquakes were unusual in New York City and could be “extremely traumatic” for some. He urged New Yorkers to be aware that aftershocks could happen, though Mr. Iscol said the probability was “low.”

One of the biggest concerns was that an emergency alert went out about 40 minutes after the earthquake occurred.

At 11:02 am, an alert was sent out to millions of people who were shaken by the quake, which happened at 10:23 am.

‘4.7 magnitude earthquake has occurred in the NYC area,’ the alert read.

‘Residents are advised to remain indoors and to call 911 if injured.’

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the quake, which the agency revealed was actually 4.8 in magnitude, was centered near Lebanon, New Jersey.

The Fire Department of New York said there were no initial reports of damage.

I would argue that while the notice about what happened was likely helpful, a 4.8 magnitude earthquake is not the same 7.7-scale shaker, which is 1000 times more powerful. Therefore, it wasn’t so much an “emergency” as an interesting surprise.

Earthquakes along the East Coast are rare, but not unknown. In fact, the fault responsible for today’s quake was the center of a smaller one last month.

The ‘epicenter’ sits on the Ramapo Fault, the longest system of cracks in the Northeast, which formed 400 million years ago – much older than California’s 28-million-year-old San Andreas.

But the fault also triggered a small quake near the epicenter last month.

The system spans from upstate New York, through New Jersey and down into Pennsylvania – and experts have long believed it has the potential to produce a major seismic event.

Kenneth Miller, a professor at Rutgers University, confirmed to that the Ramapo Fault was ‘certainly what caused Friday’s earthquake,’ while nothing that a 6-to 7-maginitude quake would have been devastating to the northeast.

I tell my staff to begin emergency earthquake procedures when a Richter Scale 5.5 or higher shaker is reported, as that is when extensive building damage begins to occur. In fact, the New York area had a 5.8 magnitude quake in 1944 that caused some property damage.

It caused about $2 million worth of damage, causing the most destruction on the East Coast since the 1944 earthquake hit New York.

Messena, New York suffered $2 million in property damage in 1944 when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake – the largest to ever hit the state – destroyed chimneys, home foundations and plumbing systems.

The $2 million recorded in 1944 would amount to roughly $35 million in 2024.

Some of the memes generated from today’s earthquake are hilarious.


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New York City Shaken by a “Light” Earthquake, Generating Surprise along East Coast and Some Fun Memes


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