Yes, NYC can have earthquakes too. Here’s how often it happens

Yes, NYC can have earthquakes too. Here’s how often it happens

On Friday, a sizable 4.8-magnitude earthquake rattled multiple states on the East Coast, taking many by surprise.

BY Brittany Loggins

At 10:23 a.m. on Friday, April 5, New York City was rattled by a 4.8-magnitude earthquake.

You may not normally associate New York City with earthquakes, but they do occasionally happen. While there are no reports of damage so far, this was a fairly large one for the area—and its impacts were felt throughout the tristate area and even as far south as Baltimore. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the epicenter of the quake was in Lebanon, New Jersey.

The Ramapo fault line runs through New Jersey, stemming from the Appalachian Mountains. There are also five smaller fault lines that run under the island of Manhattan. Even with these fault lines in the area, most quakes in the northeast region are so small that they go completely unnoticed.

The last time an earthquake occurred in New York was in May of last year, when a 2.2-magnitude quake rattled towns in the Hudson Valley area. No damage was reported and most people didn’t even clock it. Prior to that one, there was a slightly larger 3.6-magnitude quake in the town of Adams Center, New York. This quake was on the smaller side as well.


The last larger earthquake in the area was in 2011, when a 5.8-magnitude earthquake was recorded in Virginia. This led to the evacuation of NYC’s City Hall as well as offices in the Midtown Manhattan area.

While earthquakes are less common on the East Coast than the West, they do tend to be felt over a wider area. The USGS also noted in January 2024 that up to 75% of the United States could experience damaging earthquakes at some point during the next century.

The USGS warned that aftershocks are possible in the aftermath, with the likelihood increasing slightly over time. Most aftershocks are smaller than the original earthquakes.



Brittany Loggins is a journalist who loves to learn about what’s new in tech, design, and fashion. She contributes to GQ, Architectural Digest, the New York Times, and lots of others. 

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