Updated Apr 5, 2024 - Energy & Environment

4.8-magnitude earthquake felt across eastern U.S.

Where the 4.8 magnitude earthquake was felt
Data: USGS; Map: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.8 hit the New York and New Jersey region on Friday morning, followed by an aftershock in the evening, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), stunning and shocking people who felt its tremors and rumbles.

Why it matters: This appears to be the strongest earthquake to hit the New York area since a 5.2 magnitude quake in 1884, according to a tracker from Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

  • There were no initial reports of damage in New York City but fire department officials were still responding to calls and evaluating structural stability.
  • USGS estimated that more than 42 million people may have felt shaking from the quake.
  • A preliminary magnitude 4.0 aftershock hit near Whitehouse Station, New Jersey just before 6pm ET Friday, per USGS.
  • The agency earlier said there's a 46% chance of at least one 3+ magnitude aftershock in the next week.

State of play: The Federal Aviation Administration said the quake may have affected airports in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

  • Ground stops were initiated at Newark Liberty International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport until 11:30am ET.
  • New Jersey's public rail service was experiencing up to 20-minute delays due to bridge inspections. The Holland Tunnel, which connects New York City to Jersey City, was briefly closed for inspections.
  • PATCO, the rail line that between Philadelphia and the New Jersey suburbs, also suspended service.

The big picture: The quake was felt in New York City, Philadelphia and other cities across the Eastern U.S.

  • Low-level seismic activity has been present throughout the week, with New York City previously seeing a 1.7-magnitude earthquake.

Zoom out: The epicenter hit the New Jersey town of Lebanon, which is around 40 miles west of Newark.

  • It was felt as far north as New Haven, Connecticut, and as far south as Wilmington, Delaware, according to USGS.

What they're saying: President Biden was briefed on the quake and the White House has contacted federal, state, and local officials and is monitoring any potential impacts, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

  • Governors of the affected states made public statements Friday, as people in affected areas expressed shock and concern about the unusual occurrence.
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said the state activated its Emergency Operations Center.
  • New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said officials were beginning to assess any damage from the quake and would update the public throughout the day.

Flashback: Though Friday's quake was minor, it was reminiscent of the magnitude 5.8 quake that hit Virginia in 2011, which is believed to be the most widely felt earthquake in North America's history.

  • No one was killed, but it cause significant damage across the eastern U.S., including to the Washington Monument and the Washington National Cathedral in D.C.
  • That quake was much worse than Friday's. Earthquakes are measured on a logarithmic scale, so a magnitude 5 quake is around 10 times more intense than a magnitude 4.

Go deeper: Strongest quake in 25 years rocks Taiwan

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the latest.

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