Biggest Earthquake in 18 Years Shakes New York Region

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A 3.9 magnitude earthquake shook the New York City region earlier today.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the tremor occurred in the Atlantic Ocean, about 80 miles off the coast of Southhampton on Long Island, around 10:45 Tuesday morning. The earthquake wasn't big enough to do any damage or hurt anyone, and the U.S. Coast guard said there is no threat of a tsunami. It was the biggest earthquake for our area in 18 years.

Art Lerner-Lam, a seismologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said the quake was felt across the metropolitan area, according to reports received by the observatory. "Many of those reports indicated that people felt the earthquake by seeing chandeliers swing, by hearing windows rattling. A lot of reports said that it sounded as if a truck had just passed," he said. "That's very common for an earthquake of this size and at that distance."

Neither the Southampton Police Department, nor the Chamber of Commerce reported feeling any tremors. But two of WNYC's twitter followers reported feeling it in Brooklyn. Jonathan Berk, an editor, said he felt it while working at home in Ditmas Park. He told WNYC he was standing when he felt the floor move beneath his feet.

"It was a few seconds of mild shaking, not as regular as when a subway passes, and I don't usually feel the subway like that in my apartment." Berk said it was the first earthquake he'd ever felt, and that it was fun, in retrospect.

Lerner-Lam also said the earthquake is not as unusual as you may think. He said there have been five earthquakes in the same area in the past 20 years, including a 4.7 magnitude quake in 1992. "This area has been popping off pretty consistently, and this earthquake really comes as no surprise to those of us monitoring," he said. "Across the New York metropolitan area, and in fact throughout the northeast, earthquakes continue to occur."

A seismogram of the earthquake, courtesy Lamont-Doherty Observatory, Columbia University: