According to USGS, three weak earthquakes hit New England last week; however, activity has since waned with no seismic activity since Friday and Saturday’s quakes in New York and New Hampshire. The earthquakes were too weak to create any damage and were likely too weak to be felt by many people.
The first earthquake struck near Lisbon, New Hampshire on Friday, October 7, at 7:07 am. The magnitude 1.7 event struck at a depth of 5.5 km just southeast of Lisbon, New Hampshire. The second earthquake hit at Lyon Mountain in northern Upstate New York; that magnitude 1.4 event struck at a depth of 8.9 km at 3:50 am Saturday morning, October 8. The third earthquake hit in central New York not far from Albany, just north-northwest of Voorheesville. That magnitude 1.4 event struck from a depth of 19.8 km at 4:42 am on Saturday too.
Earthquakes aren’t completely rare in this part of the country; some can even be damaging. Damaging earthquakes have struck here in the past and will likely continue to happen in the future.
According to the Northeast States Emergency Consortium (NESEC), New York is a state with a very long history of earthquake activity that has touched all parts of the state. Since the first earthquake that was recorded in December 19, 1737, New York has had over 550 earthquakes centered within its state boundaries through 2016. It also has experienced strong ground shaking from earthquakes centered in nearby U.S. states and Canadian provinces. Most of the earthquakes in New York have taken place in the greater New York City area, in the Adirondack Mountains region, and in the western part of the state.
While many of the earthquakes to hit New York are weak like today’s, some have been damaging. Of the 551 earthquakes recorded between 1737 and 2016, 5 were considered “damaging”: 1737, 1929, 1944, 1983, and 2002.
While most of New York’s earthquakes have been in the Upstate, New York City has also seen damaging earthquakes over the years. At about 10:30 pm on December 18, 1737, an earthquake with an unknown epicenter hit New York with an estimated magnitude of 5.2. That quake damaged some chimneys in the city. On August 10, 1884, another 5.2 earthquake struck; this quake cracked chimneys and plaster, broke windows, and objects were thrown from shelves throughout not only New York City, but surrounding towns in New York and New Jersey too. The shaking from the 1884 earthquake was felt as far west as Toledo, Ohio and as far east as Penobscot Bay, Maine. It was also reported felt by some in Baltimore, Maryland.
The earthquakes in the Northeast are not related to a swarm of earthquakes occurring well south and west of this region in an area known as the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). Dozens of earthquakes have hit there in recent weeks, with overall earthquake activity reported by USGS to be about 300% above normal this summer in the NMSZ.