Earthquake shakes U.S. East Coast, impacting New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and others

April 6, 2024
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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the quake was felt across the state.

“My team is assessing impacts and any damage that may have occurred, and we will update the public throughout the day,” she wrote on X.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in an afternoon news briefing that no major injuries or impacts to infrastructure were reported, and that people in the city should “go about their normal day.”

Ground stops were temporarily issued at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s website. Flight disruptions at the Newark airport continued into the afternoon.

The Port Authority Transit Corp., which operates a rapid transit route between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, suspended service in the aftermath of the quake.

“Crews will inspect the integrity of the line out of an abundance of caution,” PATCO said in an update on X. “Once inspection is complete, service will resume. No timeframe. Updates to follow.”

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority said that there had been no impact to its service but that teams will be inspecting train lines. New Jersey Transit alerted riders of 20-minute delays due to bridge inspections following the earthquake.

While earthquakes in the northeast U.S. are rare, Buffalo, New York, was struck by a 3.8-magnitude quake in February 2023 — the strongest recorded in the area in 40 years.

A 4.1-magnitude earthquake struck the tri-state area in 2017, centered near Little Creek, Delaware, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. And before that, a 5.8-magnitude quake shook central Virginia in 2011, and was felt across much of the East Coast, forcing hundreds of thousands people to evacuate buildings in New York, Washington and other cities.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said in a post on X that the state has activated its emergency operations center and asked the public not to call 911 unless they are experiencing an emergency.

Frederik J. Simons, a professor of geosciences at Princeton University, told NBC News that the earthquake occurred on a shallow fault system in New Jersey and lasted about 35 seconds.

“The shallower or the closer it is, the more we feel it as humans,” he said.

The quake originated at a depth of less than 3 miles, according to the USGS

Earthquakes on the East Coast can be felt at a great distance and can cause more pronounced shaking in comparison to those on the West Coast because rocks in the region are often older, harder and more dense.  

“These are competent rocks that transmit energy well,” Simons said.

The earthquake ruptured within a fault zone known as the Ramapo system, Simons said. It’s a zone in relatively ancient rock that contains old faults and cracks from ancient tectonic processes. These old faults slowly accumulate stress and occasionally something slips, Simons said.

“There are cracks in it and now and then a little motion accumulates, the stress keeps growing, at very slow rates,” he said. “It’s like an old house creaking and groaning.”

Simons said this was one of the largest earthquakes in New Jersey in recent history. The last notable one was a magnitude-3.1 temblor in Freehold Township in September 2020. 

“I’m on campus at Princeton University for the biggest one I’ve felt in a lifetime,” he said. “This shaking was violent, strong and long.”

Some videos captured the moment of the earthquake, including one from a coffee shop in New Jersey.

The East Coast quake struck two days after a powerful 7.4-magnitude temblor shook the island of Taiwan, killing at least 12 people and injuring more than 1,000 others. The two incidents are not thought to be related, said Dara Goldberg, a USGS geophysicist.

“We’re much too far of a distance for the stress on the fault of Taiwan to affect New York,” she said.





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