New Jersey earthquake shocks Philadelphia community | The Triangle

New Jersey earthquake shocks Philadelphia community

Photo by Kasey Shamis | The Triangle

People all across the Philadelphia region felt the ground shake on Friday, April 5 at approximately 10:23 a.m., wondering if they felt a real earthquake. 

A 4.8 magnitude earthquake struck Hunterdon County, NJ. Shaking was felt across the Northeast region of the U.S. including Philadelphia, Boston, New York and Vermont, confirmed  the U.S. Geological Service. Located just three miles northeast of Lebanon, NJ, no injuries or damage have been reported as of the afternoon. 

Approximately an hour after the impact, Drexel released an alert to the university announcing the earthquake and advising students to keep safe in the event of aftershocks. A second alert was sent out an hour later. “URGENT Update to Earthquake No injuries or damages reported,” it said. 

Drexel University student Nexida Sanchez said she felt the shaking and immediately knew that it was an earthquake.

“I was sitting in my dorm bed studying and I felt the shake. … My roommate looked at me and … we both were in shock because earthquakes don’t really happen in Philly,” she said. 

Her family also felt the shaking at Temple University and in Northeast Philadelphia. 

Port Authority Transit Corporation announced that they temporarily suspended service as they inspected the line to ensure that no damage was caused as a result of the earthquake. They have since resumed all services. All SEPTA regional rail, Broad Street Local, Market Frankford Line and buses are running according to their normal schedule. 

The cause of the earthquake was attributed to The Ramapo Fault. Initially considered mostly inactive, it stems from the Appalachian Mountains and spans over 185 miles through Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. 

Friday morning’s earthquake was caused by bedrock shifts and slides in the Ramapo Fault,” said retired astronomy and geology Suffolk County Community College professor George Lomaga. 

Earthquakes such as this one can occur every 10 to 20 years due to the Ramapo Fault line movements. The shaking imitates a ripple-like motion that is “caused when throwing a stone in the water,” said Lomaga. Therefore, geographically, an earthquake was expected to occur soon.  

Philadelphia’s last earthquake was in August 2011. A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck near Richmond, Virginia. Despite the location of the earthquake being hundreds of miles away, Philadelphia felt the ground tremble. The city faced minimal physical damage but significant emotional shock. The Independence Blue Cross building suffered a shattered glass pane but no injuries were reported as a result of the earthquake. 

The 2011 Virginia earthquake was felt in over a dozen states and originated in the Piedmont region in the Virginia Seismic Zone. The earthquake’s epicenter was between the Spotsylvania fault and the Chopawamsic fault. The public speculated whether the earthquake could have been caused by fracking. 

In response to the 2024 earthquake, staff and officials evacuated Philadelphia City Hall but returned shortly after while several flights were delayed at the Philadelphia International Airport. No injuries or damage were reported in Philadelphia as of 3:00 p.m. on Friday April 5, according to Mayor Cherelle Parker.