4.8-Magnitude Earthquake Shakes New Jersey and Surrounding Areas

New Jersey's largest known earthquake, back in 1783, is typically listed as 5.3 in magnitude.

Map showing New Jersey as center of April 5 earthquake
Image courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey

A 4.8-magnitude earthquake centered in New Jersey shook the Garden State on Friday morning, with rumblings felt as far away as Maine and Virginia.

The earthquake was centered in Whitehouse Station in Hunterdon County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and occurred at 10:23 am. It was felt by millions of people.

“Earthquakes in this region are uncommon but not unexpected,” Paul Earle of the USGS National Earthquakes Information Center said during a news conference on Friday.

A number of aftershocks were reported later in the day, including a “notable” one with a magnitude of 4 a little after 6 pm, according to USGS. It was centered in Gladstone.

As for additional aftershocks, there is a 3 percent chance of a magnitude-5 aftershock in the next week, said Sara McBride of the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program. There is a 38 percent chance of a magnitude-3 aftershock within the next week and a 9 percent chance of a magnitude-4 aftershock. 

Aftershocks have the potential to occur over the coming weeks.

No major damages have been reported.

In the event of an earthquake, people are advised to drop, cover and hold on, says the USGS. Governor Phil Murphy emphasized during an interview with CBS News New York that New Jerseyans should “use your head, stay level-headed, don’t panic, and do the smart, common sense-based thing,” should any aftershocks be felt.

New Jersey’s largest known earthquake struck in 1783, and is typically listed as 5.3 in magnitude. Over the last several decades, there have been “a number of” magnitude 4-6 earthquakes in this region, Jessica Thompson Jobe of the USGS Hazards Program said Friday. Magnitude-5 earthquakes have been reported just three times in the last few hundred years, according to Jobe.

Governor Murphy was just as surprised as the rest of us when the shaking started. “Who saw a pandemic coming four years ago? Who saw an earthquake coming this morning? You live and learn,” he told CBS News New York. He says officials will “do a full post-mortem.”

At this time, the USGS cannot attribute this quake to a single fault; the organization’s scientists are still investigating. Northern New Jersey straddles the Ramapo Fault, the longest fault in the Northeast. The fault begins in Pennsylvania and moves into New Jersey, trending northeast through Hunterdon—where Friday morning’s earthquake was centered—as well as Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before ending in New York’s Westchester County.

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