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Delaware Earthquake That Shook Northeast Uncommon But Not Unprecedented

PALISADES, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Many are still shaken from a 4.1 earthquake that was felt along the East Coast on Thursday.

As CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reported, while seismic activity doesn't happen often in this region, it isn't as unusual as you might think.

Surveillance video shed light on the shaking caused by Thursday's earthquake centered near Dover, Delaware.

"I saw the fence right in front of us shake," one man said.

"It was very brief, but it was very intense," a woman added.

The earth moved hundreds of miles away.

"I was surprised that people felt it this far north," said one man.

The seismograph at Lamont Doughtery Earth Observatory, just north of the city, came to life around 4:48 p.m.

Seismologist Won-Young Kim says earthquakes happening here are nothing new. He showed Murdock a map of three fault lines that run right through Manhattan – one at 125th Street.

"That's a major break," he said.

There's one at Dykman Street and one that runs through Midtown and Gramercy. Thankfully, they're all considered inactive.

However, you might recall back in 2001, a quake measuring 2.6 on the Richter scale centered near Long Island City woke folks from their slumber.

"The ground jumped. It gave a good bolt," one man said.

In 1985, a 4.0 magnitude quake was centered in Ardsley, Westchester County. Sarah Buff of Harlem, remembers it well.

"My mom was like kind of hysterical," she said.

In 1884, a 5.0 quake struck Far Rockaway.

What about something stronger?

"I do wonder, yes," said one woman.

Like a quake similar to the 8.2 that devastated parts of southern Mexico in September.

"I think it would be devastating," another woman said.

Kim's colleague, Heather Savage, said it's highly unlikely we'll experience anything like that, because of where we sit on the North American tectonic plate.

"You see the plate boundary is out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean," she explained.

It's called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. On the West Coast, it's the San Andreas Fault, where 'the big one' is much more likely to occur.

But something smaller could happen anytime. Experts cannot predict earthquakes.


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