Gallery: 5.8 Earthquake Shakes East Coast From Virginia to New York Cit...

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.


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  1. Louielouie August 25, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I live in Christchurch, New Zealand, which as experienced several devastating earthquakes and thousands of aftershocks over the last year. Generally you don’t want to run out of a building. Many people were killed in Christchurch due to falling brick and stone masonary. Huddle under your desk or something else solid and wait till the shakes stop, being aware that an aftershock could happen any minute. Your building may sway alot, but this is what it is supposed to do in an earthquake.

  2. lisandro August 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I would definately stay clear of falling broken glass and debris. So if you run out of the building, don’t look up.

  3. lazyreader August 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Felt it in Maryland, relatively minor jiggling, some stuff fell off my drawer. Got out of house and played basketball.