If you’re anywhere in the 5 boroughs of New York, you probably just felt a considerable tremor that shook your shelves and left you a little perplexed. The earthquake you just felt was a magnitude 5.8, with an epicenter in Mineral, Virginia. The quake was felt from Virginia to Boston, even prompting the evacuation of the Pentagon and Capitol Building in Washington, and City Hall, right here in New York. This past March we reported on seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory stating that once every 100 years, an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 rocks the city. While the earthquake wasn’t centered in New York, the last one we saw was a 5.3 tremor that hit in 1884 – is this a sign of what’s to come?
While east coast seismic activity isn’t quite as robust as what’s seen on the west, there is a cycle seen in earthquake activity on this side of the nation. A study by the Earth Observatory found that a 6.0 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and a 7.0 magnitude hits about every 3,400 years.
There are several fault lines in New York’s metro area, including one along 125th Street, a fault line on Dyckman Street in Inwood, and another in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County. The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation rates the chance of an earthquake hitting the city as moderate. In the event of an earthquake of 5.0 seismologist believe that the city would likely sit fairly sound. While there would undoubtedly be costly damage in the millions to billions of dollars, particularly to buildings of older construction, skyscrapers would would not collapse.
Where subways, bicycles and foot are the dominant forms of transportation, and set within a urbanscape thick with hundred-foot high structures, if you’re stuck in the city in the aftermath of an earthquake, what remedies do you have? We’d love to hear your top earthquake tips – because for those who might have never felt a tremor in their life, we’re sure their minds only drew blanks.