An earthquake rattled the New Jersey shore area earlier this morning, generating enough shaking to generate more than 100 reports by residents of the quake into the USGS. The epicenter of the earthquake occurred under the water south of Parker Road and east of Great Bay Boulevard south of downtown Tuckerton in the Tuckerton Cove area. This is the first earthquake to strike this portion of the U.S. in many weeks and the fourth to strike New Jersey in the last 12 months.
Centered specifically at 39.574°N 74.336°W, the earthquake had a depth of 3.1 miles. With a magnitude of only 2.4, it was too weak to generate a local tsunami at the Jersey Shore. However, as of publication time, 152 people reported feeling the earthquake. The USGS encourages others that felt the quake to report it to their Did You Feel It? Database. Most people reported weak to light shaking, with reports coming in from Burlington, Camden, Ocean, Atlantic, and Cape May counties. The quake struck as many were starting their day at 7:52 am.
While the risk of earthquakes are low in New Jersey compared to seismically active zones in the western United States, the NJ DEP Division of Water Supply and Geoscience warns that the Garden State is overdue for a more substantial earthquake. The department cautions, ” New Jersey doesn’t get many earthquakes, but it does get some. Fortunately most are small. A few New Jersey earthquakes, as well as a few originating outside the state, have produced enough damage to warrant the concern of planners and emergency managers. Damage in New Jersey from earthquakes has been minor: items knocked off shelves, cracked plaster and masonry, and fallen chimneys. Perhaps because no one was standing under a chimney when it fell, there are no recorded earthquake–related deaths in New Jersey. We will probably not be so fortunate in the future.” They add that earthquakes with a maximum intensity of VII (today’s earthquake was only a II or III on a I to X+ scale) have occured in the New York City area in 1737, 1783, and 1884, with one intensity VI and four intensity Vs impacting the region over the last 300 years. “The time spans between the intensity VII earthquakes were 46 and 101 years. This, and data for the smaller-intensity quakes, implies a return period of 100 years or less, and suggests New Jersey is overdue for a moderate earthquake like the one of 1884.”
The dynamic crust of the Earth has been moving around quite a bit in recent days and week. This week, a series of earthquakes continue to rock Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There have also been significant earthquake swarms: a swarm hit Oregon’s largest volcano days ago, while a swarm continues over southern California near the San Andreas fault. Over Memorial Day weekend, a swarm even impacted the Disney Land resort area. Other earthquakes have been occurring under the Atlantic Ocean near the Mid Atlantic ridge. While attention has been paid to these earthquake events, USGS says they aren’t related to each other.