Wait, we can get earthquakes in Western New York?

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The short answer to that is, yes! And Thursday evening was a prime example of that.

At approximately 8:41 P.M., residents from Livingston County reported feeling the light tremor. It occurred about 30 miles southeast of Batavia and rated a 2.4 in magnitude on the Richter scale.

We typically don’t think of New York state for having earthquakes, but they certainly are capable of having them.

Upon my own investigation, there does appear to be an existing fault line right nearby where the quake happened that may have contributed to the light tremor, but it is not confirmed by official sources.

The Clarendon-Linden fault line consists of a major series of faults that runs from Lake Ontario to Allegany county, that are said to be responsible for much of the seismic activity that occurs in the region. It is a north-south oriented fault system that displays both strike-slip and dip-slip motion. 

Clarendon-Linden Fault System

Image courtesy: glyfac.buffalo.edu

This fault is actively known for minor quakes, but is said to not be a large threat to the area. According to Genesee county, researchers have identified many potential fault lines both to the east, and to the west of the Clarendon-Linden Fault.

Image courtesy of scienedirect.com article

According to the University at Buffalo, they have proof that upstate New York is criss-crossed by fault lines. Through remote sensing by satellite and planes, a research group found that “there are hundreds of faults throughout the Appalachian Plateau, some of which may have been seismically active — albeit sporadically — since Precambrian times, about 1 billion years ago.”

The state of New York averages about a handful of minor earthquakes every year. In Western New York in December of 2019, a 2.1 earthquake occurred near Sodus Point over Lake Ontario, and in March of 2016, a 2.1 earthquake occurred near Attica in Genesee county.

For an interactive map of recent earthquakes from the USGS click HERE.

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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