New York earthquake: Top researcher pinpoints cause and issues aftershock warning | US | News

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An earthquake centered between New York and Philadelphia shook skyscrapers and suburbs across the northeastern US for several seconds Friday morning, startling millions of people in an area largely unaccustomed to such tremors.

The quake hit at 10:23am, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), with a preliminary magnitude of 4.8 at Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, about 45 miles west of New York City. Over 42 million people may have felt the rumbling.

It came as a shock to those along the East Coast and left many wondering how such an event could happen in a region where earthquakes rarely occur.

Lingsen Meng, an associate professor of geophysics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), said exclusively to Daily Express US that the quake was likely caused by “glacial rebound.”

Meng said: “There’s different hypotheses, but the most likely one is glacial rebound. Or they also call it isostatic glacial adjustment. This is something that happens because we’re coming out of an ice age.”

READ MORE: New York City ‘waited 20 minutes’ to alert residents of 4.8 magnitude earthquake

Meng added: “And when you remove the glacier, you remove a load of weight from across the ditch…that tries to bounce back. But this process is slow compared to the change of climate.

“So this could happen over tens of thousands of years. And in this process, the cross deforms and puts stress on the side of the cross. Old forts could be easily activated by the stress.”

On Friday, people from Baltimore to the MassachusettsNew Hampshire border reported feeling the ground shake. While there were no immediate reports of serious damage, officials were checking bridges and other major infrastructure out of caution.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams warned on Friday of a possible aftershock from the earthquake, which usually occurs within 10 days of the event, Meng said.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Friday: “If there is an aftershock, people are encouraged to drop to the floor, cover your neck, and hold onto something that is sturdy…If you hear shifting or any noises, unusual noises, leave your home, go outside.”

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When asked about a potential aftershock, Meng said “there’s going to be aftershock for sure.”

Meng said: “Usually we expect the magnitude to be lower than the main shock, like 1.5 or 1. That’s the largest aftershock you can usually expect.

“But there is a small chance, less than 10 percent chance, that you can have an earthquake larger than the main shock. But all of these possibilities fade away in about 10 days or so.”

Meng added that earthquakes on the East Coast are “much more rare compared to the West Coast” because the East Coast does not lie on a boundary of tectonic plates. The biggest Eastern quakes usually occur along the mid-Atlantic Ridge, which extends through Iceland and the Atlantic Ocean.

Quakes on the East Coast can still pack a punch, as its rocks are better than their western counterparts at spreading earthquake energy across long distances.

A 4.8-magnitude quake isn’t large enough to cause damage, except for some minor effects near the epicenter, the USGS posted on X.

Earthquakes with magnitudes near or above five struck near New York City in 1737, 1783 and 1884, the USGS said. And Friday’s stirred memories of the August 23, 2011, earthquake that jolted tens of millions of people from Georgia to Canada. With an epicenter in Virginia, it left cracks in the Washington Monument and rattled New Yorkers ahead of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.

Registering magnitude 5.8, it was the strongest earthquake to hit the East Coast since World War II.

Friday’s earthquake was strong enough to damage multiple family homes in Newark, New Jersey.

Meng said: “The earthquakes on the East Coast tend to happen more randomly in terms of the location, because it happens a lot on fossil faults which we don’t know where they are until there’s an earthquake. They’re less concentrated, less frequent, and less localized earthquakes.”

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