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Is the rare New Jersey earthquake related to the eclipse?

Rare New Jersey earthquake rattles U.S. Northeast.
New Jersey earthquake, April 5, 2024. Image via USGS.

New Jersey earthquake struck at 4.8 magnitude yesterday

A rare 4.8-magnitude earthquake rattled the U.S. Northeast on Friday, April 5, 2024. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it happened at 10:23 a.m. EDT and was centered near Lebanon, New Jersey, about 45 miles (70 km) west of New York City and 50 miles (80 km) north of Philadelphia. Residents in New Jersey and Pennsylvania also reported being rattled by the quake. USGS reported that, altogether, more than 42 million people might have felt the quake. And all of them must have been surprised, since earthquakes of that magnitude are rare in the U.S. Northeast. And, as the day passed yesterday, wacky theories – some connected to Monday’s total solar eclipse – emerged on the internet. Read more about that below.

In the meantime, no injuries or major infrastructure damages due to this earthquake have been reported along the U.S. East Coast.

EarthSky’s Michael Maimone lives in New Jersey and was there when the quake happened. He said he was 62 miles (100 km) from the epicenter. He said:

All the pictures on my wall rattled like crazy. It took me a minute to realize what was going on until the house started to sway and the shaking got more intense.

Is the earthquake related to the eclipse?

The proximity in time between the April 5 earthquake in the U.S. Northeast – and the total solar eclipse of April 8 – has conspiracy theorists’ heads spinning. Because, you know, it was a 4.8-magnitude earthquake. And the eclipse is on 4-8 (April 8). Do these folks think any natural events are random?

The eclipse and the earthquake are, however, unrelated. More in the tweet below and in the following section.

How rare are earthquakes in this region?

USGS explained:

Since colonial times people in the New York-Philadelphia-Wilmington urban corridor have felt small earthquakes and suffered damage from infrequent larger ones. New York City was damaged in 1737 and 1884. Moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in the urban corridor roughly twice a century, and smaller earthquakes are felt roughly every 2-3 years.

Earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S., although less frequent than in the western U.S., are typically felt over a much broader region. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as 10 times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast. A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt at many places as far as 100 km (60 mi) from where it occurred, and it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake usually can be felt as far as 500 km (300 mi) from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage as far away as 40 km (25 mi).

The New Jersey earthquake from around the web

Bottom line: Conspiracy theorists are having a field day imagining a connection between yesterday’s 4.8-magnitude New Jersey earthquake in the U.S., and Monday’s solar eclipse. The quake and the craziness here. 

April 6, 2024

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Deborah Byrd

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