SMALL EARTHQUAKES STRIKE NYC
Two mild earthquakes struck NYC in January and October of 2001
17 January 2001
At 7:34 AM EST a magnitude 2.4 tremor struck the upper east side of Manhattan (40.777°N latitude and 73.954°W longitude). The epicenter of the quake plots near the vicinity of 102nd Street and Park Avenue and rang in at a depth of ~5-7 km.
The truly fascinating aspect of the quake was that the epicenter was located on the mapped trace of the 125th Street (Manhattanville) fault that traverses diagonally across Manhattan from Broadway and 125th Street southeastward to the Harlem Meer in Central Park (~108th Street), passing through the epicenter across to ~96th Street and the east shore of Manhattan. From there the Manhattanville fault passes across the East River and onwards to the subsurface of Long Island City.
The event, marking the first recorded historic earthquake to strike on land within the confines of the NYC metropolitan area, was felt throughout the city. Larger previous earthquakes in the vicinity of NYC were recorded in 1884 (~5.0-5.5), 1783 (~4.9), and 1737 (~5.2). The magnitude 4.0 Ardsley quake in 1985 was along the Dobbs Ferry fault, another NW-trending fault.
Indeed, a Dukelabs geologist has mapped many NW-trending faults in the Queens Tunnel (Merguerian 2002b) finding them to be the youngest geologic feature mapped there. This supports the "minority of two" contention of Merguerian and Sanders (1997) that the NW-trending faults in NYC [the Manhattanville (125th Street), Dyckman Street, Mosholu (Van Cortlandt Park) faults, and many others - see the fault map of Lobeck (1939) hold the greatest potential for urban seismic risk. Click on the links above to download maps and copies of the paper on the post-glacial neotectonic displacement of the Bronx River, recent earthquake news articles, and thoughts on the implicated role of seismicity in the production of the Bronx River drainage anomaly.
27 October 2001
At 5:42 AM EST a magnitude 2.6 tremor struck the west side of Manhattan (40.76°N latitude and 73.98°W longitude). The epicenter of the quake plots near the vicinity of 55th Street and Eighth Avenue and rang in at a depth of only 1 km. These events are significant because they mark the first recorded on-land earthquakes to occur within the confines of New York City. Incidentally, for comparison purposes only, the collapse of the first and second towers of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 registered 2.1 and 2.3 on the Richter scale according to seismologists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Courtesy Officer Ken Cordo
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