Southern New England was shaken Sunday morning by a magnitude 4.0 (revised from 4.2 as first reported) earthquake at a depth of 12 miles.
The earthquake was centered a few miles off of New Bedford and was felt in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Long Island. According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center the quake struck at 9:10am.
The last earthquake to hit New England was a 2.1 magnitude centered just off of Martha’s Vineyard on July 23, 2020 and this was the largest earthquake in New England since 1982 when a 4.7 quake centered Laconia, New Hampshire shook the area.
People in New England, and in its geological extension southward through Long Island, have felt small earthquakes and suffered damage from infrequent larger ones since colonial times. Moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in the region every few decades, and smaller earthquakes are felt roughly twice a year. The Boston area was damaged three times within 28 years in the middle 1700’s, and New York City was damaged in 1737 and 1884. The largest known New England earthquakes occurred in 1638 (magnitude 6.5) in Vermont or New Hampshire, and in 1755 (magnitude 5.8) offshore from Cape Ann northeast of Boston. The Cape Ann earthquake caused severe damage to the Boston waterfront. The most recent New England earthquake to cause moderate damage occurred in 1940 (magnitude 5.6) in central New Hampshire.
Earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S., although less frequent than in the western U.S., are typically felt over a much broader region. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast. A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt at many places as far as 60 miles from where it occurred, and it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake usually can be felt as far as 300 miles from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage as far away as 25 miles.