Buffalo earthquake: how big was New York quake today, where was epicentre - how it compares to Turkey quakes

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The earthquake was the strongest recorded in the area in almost 40 years

People in New York were shaken as an earthquake with a magnitude of 3.8 hit the Buffalo area at around 6.15 am, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The earthquake was felt as "far north as Niagara Falls and as south as Orchard Park" said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz shortly after 6.30am.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Where was the epicentre of the earthquake and how does it compare to the one on the Syria-Turkey border?

Governor Kathy Hochul said there were no immediate reports of damage for the earthquake in Buffalo Governor Kathy Hochul said there were no immediate reports of damage for the earthquake in Buffalo
Governor Kathy Hochul said there were no immediate reports of damage for the earthquake in Buffalo | Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Where was the epicentre of the earthquake? 

The USGS reports the earthquake was near West Seneca, which is a suburb of Buffalo that borders the city to the southeast. It happened almost two miles underground. According to NBC, the earthquake is the strongest recorded in the area in 40 years.

Although recorded with a magnitude of 3.8, it had a preliminary magnitude of 4.2. Governor Kathy Hochul said there were no immediate reports of damage, adding: "My team is in touch with local officials and we will provide any support needed."

Small quakes are not unheard of in Western New York state. In May 2020, the USGS reported a 2.3 magnitude earthquake that was felt by Hamburg residents, and a 4.4 magnitude quake in May 2013, in Quebec, was felt on both sides of the border.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Why do earthquakes happen in New York? 

There is a system of faults - a fracture between two blocks of rock - between the northern Appalachian Mountains - in Newfoundland in Canada - and Piedmont areas - which is in North Carolina on the east coast - known as the Ramapo Fault Zone. This is the best-known fault zone in the Mid-Atlantic region, and has caused several small earthquakes.

An earthquake in a fault zone occurs when fractures between blocks allow rocks to move relative to one another. However, most earthquakes are associated with tectonic plate boundaries.

How does the Buffalo earthquake compare to the one in Turkey and Syria? 

The border of Turkey and Syria was hit by two earthquakes on Monday (6 February) killing more than 2,000 people.

The first tremor hit the south-eastern city of Gaziantep with a 7.8 magnitude in the early hours of the morning. Later, a second quake was recorded at 7.5 on the Richter scale, about 80 miles away.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The disaster has led to hundreds of people trapped under rubble on both sides of the border. Syrian authorities are reporting 810 people dead and more than 2,000 injured, and in Turkey, the country’s disaster agency says some 1,500 people were killed after the first quake, and more than 5,300 were wounded.

The BBC reports millions of people across Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and Israel felt the earthquake

They are considered to be serious earthquakes, measuring as "major" on the official magnitude scale. It broke along about 62 miles of fault line, causing serious damage to buildings near the fault.

This region had not had a major earthquake for more than 200 years or had any warning signs, meaning the level of preparedness would be less than for a region which was more used to dealing with tremors.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.