Earthquakes, Aftershocks Rattle NYC And Beyond: 'One Of The Largest' East Coast Quakes In The Last Century

New York City and its surrounding area were hit by a significant earthquake and multiple aftershocks Friday, including a powerful aftershock Friday evening. 

Friday, April 5th 2024, 5:48 pm

By: CBS News


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New York City and its surrounding area were hit by a significant earthquake and multiple aftershocks Friday, including a powerful aftershock Friday evening. 

A 4.0 magnitude aftershock hit 37 miles west New York City near Gladstone, N.J. around 6 p.m. Friday. It struck 9.7 kilometers deep and was felt as far away as Long Island, where there were reports of houses shaking. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said there were no immediate reports of significant damage after the 4.0 aftershock Friday evening, which came on the heels of Friday morning's 4.8 magnitude earthquake. It was one of the largest quakes to hit the region in a century. 

It hit at approximately 10:23 a.m., startling everyone. It struck 4.7 kilometers below the surface and was centered in Readington Township, New Jersey, about 40 miles west of New York City, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. 

Walls rattled and shelves shook throughout the area. Videos captured various views of the moment the earthquake hit

The impact was felt throughout the Tri-State Area, including upstate in Syracuse, as well as in Philadelphia and as far away as Baltimore. The USGS said the impact was felt all the way from Maine to Washington, D.C.

There have been at least four aftershocks since the earthquake hit. About an hour after the initial impact, a 2.0 aftershock struck west of Bedminster, N.J. At around 12:30, there was a 1.8 magnitude aftershock, another 2.0 aftershock at 1:14 p.m., and another 2.0 aftershock shortly before 3 p.m. 

"Aftershocks of these sizes are normal and are not expected to cause further damage," New York Gov. Kathy Hochul wrote on X. 

Maps shows 4.7 earthquake centered in New Jersey - April 5 '24Image Provided By: CBS News

"One of the largest earthquakes on the East Coast in the last century" 

"We're taking this extremely seriously and here's why. There's always the possibility of aftershocks. We have not felt a magnitude of this earthquake since about 2011," Hochul said. "This is one of the largest earthquakes on the East Coast to occur in the last century." 

Hochul said she has started a damage assessment across the state, and spoke with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, since the quake's epicenter was located in the Garden State. 

"It's been an unsettling day, to say the least," Hochul said. 

Murphy, who was at a conference out of state when the quake hit, touted the response locally

"The reaction was swift and very impressive by the likes of the Port Authority, our State Police opening up its emergency operations center, local and county officials," Murphy said. 

He said the top infrastructure concern is the Hudson River tunnels, though so far there were no reports of major damage. 

"The rail tunnels were built in, finished in 1911, which is why we're building two new ones," Murphy said. 

NYC Mayor Adams: "New Yorkers should go about their normal day"

New York City officials said there have been no reports of major impacts across the city. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said though there's always a concern about aftershocks, "New Yorkers should go about their normal day. First responders are working to make sure the city's safe." 

In the event of an aftershock, Adams said people should "drop to the floor, cover your head and neck, and take cover under a solid piece of furniture next to an interior wall, or in a doorway." 

Adams also said he's been in touch with the White House. 

"Earthquakes don't happen every day in New York, so this can be extremely traumatic - the number of texts, calls and inquiries that people sent out not only to our administration, but to family members. Check in on them. We know how this can impact you," Adams said. 

"We activated our protocols for this earthquake. We immediately started coordinating with all city, state, federal and our utility partners. Public notifications were sent out both by Notify NYC and our wireless emergency alert system," New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zachary Iscol said. 

"We are putting on additional construction and engineering professionals from this point on over the weekend, so if reports do come in, we will be ready to respond," Department of Buildings Commissioner James Oddo said. 

City officials say in people sees cracks in their home or business as a result of the earthquake, they should call 311. 

New York City public schools were told to continue operations and hold dismissal as normal.

"Parents do not need to pick up their child early as a result of today's earthquake. Additionally, all after-school programs will continue as planned," New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks said. "All of our students across the school system are safe. All of our staff are safe. We have no reports of any structural damage to any of our school facilities, while many schools in fact felt some tremors from the earthquake." 

Adams said he was at a Youth Gun Summit at Gracie Mansion and did not feel the quake himself. 

"I would encourage all New Yorkers to use this as a wakeup call to make sure that they are prepared for future seismic activity. Know what to do - know not to evacuate outside your building. Know if you are outside to stay away from power lines or things that can collapse. Make sure you have emergency supplies on hand. Make sure you have a plan for your family," Iscol said. 

Traffic, transit and airport impacts of the quake

The quake caused temporary ground stops at John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty airports. There were delays as well as LaGuardia as crews checked for damage to the airports and runways

The MTA said it is inspecting all New York City-area bridges and tunnels. Officials also said subway tunnels were checked. 

"Initial inspections show there was not damage to any MTA infrastructure, but we will continue to monitor the situation closely," the MTA posted on X. 

Amtrak and MTA service remained on their full schedule, Hochul said. 

New Yorkers, area residents shaken up by unusual earthquake

The experience was more than enough to rattle some New Yorkers

"I was laying in my bed, and my whole apartment building started shaking. I started freaking out," one New York City resident told CBS New York's Elijah Westbrook. 

"My class was scared. So my friends, they went next to me and gave me a hug," 6-year-old Trinity Morales told CBS New York's Jennifer Bisram. 

"I was sound asleep. I got home late last night, had a little bit of water in the basement, so I was up until like 4:30. I was sound asleep at 10:23. This thing rattled me up," CBS New York's Lonnie Quinn said. "I initially thought it was wind, because my windows were rattling and shaking. Looked outside, the trees were not blowing. I thought, what is that?" 

Cracks in walls were visible in an apartment in Berkeley Heights, N.J. 

The Empire State Building had bit of fun after the quake

"I AM FINE," the building posted on X. 

More history of earthquakes in New York

It's not the first time the East Coast and New York City have been hit with a quake. A 5.0 quake was measured in New York City in 1884. 

By way of comparison, a 4.0 earthquake is the equivalent of 33,000 pounds of explosive going off at any one time. A 5.0 earthquake is the equivalent of a million pounds of explosives. The record for New Jersey is a 5.3.  

There's a major fault line in New Jersey called the Ramapo Fault, which stems from the Appalachian mountains, and there are at least five smaller fault lines under Manhattan island. 

The quake comes just a few months after the USGS warned nearly 75% of the United States could face damaging quakes in the next 100 years

In 2011, a 5.8 quake struck in Virginia and rattled the entire East Coast.  

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What causes an earthquake? 

USGS says an earthquake is caused when two blocks of the earth suddenly slip past one another. The surface where they slip is called the fault or fault plane. When an underground rock suddenly breaks, it causes rapid motion along the fault, which causes seismic waves to shake the ground, according to Michigan Tech University. 

How are earthquakes measured? 

Earthquakes are recorded by instruments called seismographs. A seismograph is mounted onto the surface of the earth so that when the earth shakes, the entire unit shakes with it except for a mass mounted on a spring, which remains in the same place. As the seismograph shakes under the mass, a recording device on the mass records the relative motion between itself and the rest of the instrument, thus recording the motion of the ground.The Richter scale was developed in 1935 by seismologist Charles Richter to quantify the magnitude or strength, of earthquakes. A single-digit number summarizes an earthquake; the higher the number, the more severe of an earthquake, according to Scientific American. 

Are earthquakes common in Oklahoma? 

According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, Approximately fifty minor earthquakes occur in Oklahoma each year, but only an average of one to two are reported felt. USGS says that since 2010, there have been 99 earthquakes in Oklahoma, a 4.0 or greater.According to USGS, the strongest earthquake recorded in Oklahoma was 5.7 on the Richter scale in 2011. 

Can scientists predict earthquakes?

Scientists can not predict earthquakes. USGS says scientists have tried many different ways of predicting earthquakes, but none have succeeded. On any particular fault, scientists know there will be another earthquake sometime in the future, but they have no way of telling when it will happen.

How should I prepare my home for an earthquake? 

The California Academy says the best way to prepare your home for earthquakes is by checking for hazards. Make sure shelves are fastened securely to walls, brace overhead light fixtures, and store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.

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