Saturday, February 28, 2009


I tried to track down some more information on the New York Geological Survey.

It seems like there could be a better state presence to represent the interests of the citizens of New York concerning geologic hazards and resources. Perhaps this is being handled ok as is, or perhaps the existence of federal agencies like the USGS and entities like LCSN fill the gap.

There has been an historical association of the NYGS within the State Museum:
Our history of inquiry, discovery, and education began in 1836 when we were established as the State Geological and Natural History Survey. Over the years, we have grown into a major research and an educational institution dedicated to preserving New York's rich artistic, social, historical, and environmental legacies under the leadership of the New York State Education Department.
But, there also seems to have decreases in state funding in support of geology:

The Times Union (Albany, NY)
December 9, 1997
Quake-spotters feel tremors of apathy
Late on the afternoon of June 8, 1996, about 9.6 miles under the village of Altamont, the earth moved.
Only one person noticed.
''It should have been felt,'' said Walter Mitronovas, who discovered the earthquake when it registered 2.5 on one of two seismographs at the State Museum. ''But there was a thunderstorm at the same time. That probably explains it.''
As the state's seismologist, Mitronovas has spent nearly 20 years measuring the Earth when it moves. But when he retires next spring, the $ 61,500 position won't be filled.
Dr. Robert Fakundiny, a geologist who oversees the state Geological Survey, said a hiring freeze, lack of funding sources and a dwindling interest in Northeast earthquakes is to blame.
''Most people are now convinced the earthquake hazard is not high enough (in the Northeast) to warrant the continued funding,'' said Fakundiny.
''The last five years have been very quiet,'' said Mitronovas, 61. ''I'm not sure it's the quiet before the storm, though.''
Although the number and size of earthquakes in the Northeast is about 50 times lower than in California, Mitronovas said a quake here will have a wider damage pattern because of the type of soils in the Northeast and the under-ground rock patterns that would carry the shock waves further.
The state's seismology position was created in the early 1970s when Bethlehem Steel wanted to dispose of toxic waste in a deep well in western New York. Because a similar operation in Colorado showed the possibility of manmade earthquakes, a system of seismographs was installed by the state Geological Survey and Lamont-Doherty, now known as the Earth Observatory of Columbia University. That system picked up other earthquakes in the Wyoming County town of Dale, about 100 miles away from the toxic disposal site and caused by a deep well salt-mining operation.
''When that (salt) operation was shut down, the earthquakes stopped,'' said Fakundiny. Curious, the scientists decided to experiment by triggering their own earthquakes at the site. When Columbia, fearing it could be liable for potential damages caused by these earthquakes, withdrew from the project, the state decided to hire its own seismologist.
The first seismologist left in the late 1970s as that series of experiments wound down. However, the state was immersed in contentious hearings on siting nuclear power plants,and wanted its own expert to gauge the potential of earthquake damage to reactors.
Mitronovas was in Switzerland and wanted to return to the United States. He arrived in February 1978 to set up and monitor the state's seismic network. At one point in the early 1980s, there were networks operated by the state, Lamont, the U.S. Geological Survey and a consortium of power companies reaching about 50 machines scattered around the state.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Where is the New York Geological Survey?

As I have been looking for information on the recent small earthquakes that have occurred in Pennsylvania, then New Jersey, most recently New York, I eventually want to check out what the state geological surveys have to say about earthquakes in general, and also about particular events.

There is a nice web page for the Association of American State Geologists (AASG), which "represents the State Geologists of the 50 United States and Puerto Rico. Founded in 1908, AASG seeks to advance the science and practical application of geology and related earth sciences in the United States and its territories, commonwealths, and possessions."

However, when you click on the state of New York, you are directed to the New York State Museum, and then to information about pretty minerals. Now, I love museums, but this hardly seems appropriate as a source for geological information about hazards and resources within a state.

There is an "unofficial gateway" to the resources of the New York Geological Survey, which states "The NYSGS does not have an official web site at this time."

By putting 2+2+2 together, I was able with some effort to track down a web presence for the Office of the State Geologist. Yet all one finds is a list of names. Compare this to the other state surveys on the AASG website above. New York's web presence hardly seems acceptable in this day and age.

What's up, New York?

Monday, February 23, 2009

What's shaking in Albany, NY?

Well, while I've been worrying about small earthquakes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, you might have thought I'd forgotten about New York. Lo and behold, there have been seven small earthquakes near Albany in the last week. Belated fallout from the Eliot Spitzer affair? Who knows.

A list of the events from the LCSN web page is below. Each event is hot-linked to a more detailed report.
y/m/d h:m:s deg deg km from Albany
2.1  2009/02/23 10:46:20 42.574N 74.094W  7.0   19 mi SW
2.1 2009/02/21 02:30:43 42.569N 74.103W 11.0 20 mi SW
2.7 2009/02/20 13:04:19 42.572N 74.096W 8.0 19 mi SW
1.6 2009/02/19 09:22:58 42.573N 74.094W 8.0 19 mi SW
2.4 2009/02/18 11:20:23 42.572N 74.101W 10.0 20 mi SW
2.7 2009/02/17 22:41:50 42.570N 74.103W 9.0 20 mi SW
2.1 2009/02/17 09:33:26 42.571N 74.135W 16.0 21 mi SW

Here is part of a news account of one of these:
Earthquake triggers Gilboa dam inspection
Saturday, February 21, 2009

— A small earthquake southeast of Albany Wednesday prompted an immediate inspection of the Gilboa Dam under new operating procedures put in place by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, an engineer said Friday.

The earthquake was minor and didn’t cause any damage to the massive concrete structure that remains the focus of a multimillion-dollar construction project now in its first phase, said John H. Vickers, chief of western operations for the DEP.

According to the Lamont-Doherty Cooperative Seismographic Network, the magnitude 2.4 event took place at roughly 11:20 p.m. on Wednesday, centered roughly 32 miles southeast of Albany.

People in the vicinity of a magnitude 2.4 earthquake would feel minor shaking lasting two or three seconds, according to Won-Young Kim, senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades, NY.

The New York City DEP was notified and immediately dispatched inspectors to ensure there were no problems, as part of new standard operating procedure, Vickers said.

But I haven't seen any stories yet on the whole mini-swarm.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Largest earthquake ever recorded, Chile, 1960

That would be Chile, 1960. Same area as Darwin's quake. This helps put our recent small quakes in the Northeast in perspective.

From the USGS:

1960 May 22 19:11:14 UTC
Magnitude 9.5

The Largest Earthquake in the World

"Approximately 1,655 killed, 3,000 injured, 2,000,000 homeless, and $550 million damage in southern Chile; tsunami caused 61 deaths, $75 million damage in Hawaii; 138 deaths and $50 million damage in Japan; 32 dead and missing in the Philippines; and $500,000 damage to the west coast of the United States." (USGS)

"The series of earthquakes ... ravaged southern Chile and ruptured over a period of days a 1,000 km section of the fault, one of the longest ruptures ever reported. The number of fatalities associated with both the tsunami and the earthquake has been estimated to be between 490 and 5,700. Reportedly there were 3,000 injured, and initially there were 717 missing in Chile. The Chilean government estimated 2,000,000 people were left homeless and 58,622 houses were completely destroyed. Damage (including tsunami damage) was more than $500 million U.S. dollars. The main shock setup a series of seismic sea waves (tsunami) that not only was destructive along the coast of Chile, but which also caused numerous casualties and extensive property damage in Hawaii and Japan, and which was noticeable along shorelines throughout the Pacific Ocean area. There were several other geologic phenomena besides tsunamis associated with this event. Subsidence caused by the earthquake produced local flooding and permanently altered the shorelines of much of the area in Chile impacted by the earthquake. Landslides were common on Chilean hillsides. Cordón Caulle erupted forty-seven hours after the main shock. It is only a matter of time until Chile once again has a "world-class" earthquake whose impact, like the 1960 Chile event, will be felt around the world." (NOAA)

Valdivia, Chile (NOAA)

"Valdivia suffered catastrophic damage because of its proximity to the epicenter of the massive quake. Regional tectonic subsidence of five to seven feet occurred. There was extensive loss to agricultural lands from flooding. The horizontal ground motions, not the subsidence, caused the principal damage to structures away from shorelines and river channels. Older masonry structures were hard hit by the earthquake. However, many wood frame buildings performed well.

"The highest [tsunami] runup on the United States was at Crescent City, California. Here, the runup reached 1.7 m and the first wave arrived 15.5 hours after the tsunami was triggered. A total of $500,000 to $1,000,000 in damage was done by the tsunami to the United States west coast.

"Hilo was the hardest hit city in the Hawaiian Islands. The tsunami arrived at Hilo about 15 hours after it originated off the coast of south central Chile, 6,600 miles distant. The runup at Hilo was measured at 10.7 m. The tsunami changed into a bore as it passed the harbor entrance and advanced on to the bay front. The business district along Kamehameha Avenue and the adjoining low-lying residential areas of Waiakea and Shimmache were destroyed. Damage to property included 229 dwellings and 308 business and public buildings. Between the Wailoa and Wailuku Rivers, the water washed inland as far as the 6 m(20 ft) contour above sea level." (NOAA)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

On this date: Charles Darwin's Chilean earthquake

Last week was the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth. On today's date of Feb. 20, 1835, Darwin felt an earthquake in Valdivia, Chile, now estimated to have been of magnitude 8.5. The largest earthquake ever recorded by seismographs occurred in this same area, in 1960.

At the American Public Media web site, Speaking of Faith, you can hear an hour-long show on Darwin and his times (I haven't listened to it yet), and a short passage by David Kohn on the importance of Darwin's earthquake experience. It furthered his understanding of the possibility of gradual evolutionary change as part of a very long geologic history. This site also contains Darwin's earthquake "blog":

February 20, 1835
This day has been remarkable in the annals of Valdivia for the most severe earthquake which the oldest inhabitants remember.— Some who were at Valparaiso during the dreadful one of 1822, say this was as powerful.— I can hardly credit this, & must think that in Earthquakes as in gales of wind, the last is always the worst. I was on shore & lying down in the wood to rest myself. It came on suddenly & lasted two minutes (but appeared much longer). The rocking was most sensible; the undulation appeared both to me & my servant to travel due East. There was no difficulty in standing upright; but the motion made me giddy.— I can compare it to skating on very thin ice or to the motion of a ship in a little cross ripple.

An earthquake like this at once destroys the oldest associations; the world, the very emblem of all that is solid, moves beneath our feet like a crust over fluid; one second of time conveys to the mind a strange idea of insecurity, which hours of reflection would never create. In the forest, a breeze moved the trees, I felt the earth tremble, but saw no consequence from it.— At the town where nearly all the officers were, the scene was more awful; all the houses being built of wood, none actually fell & but few were injured. Every one expected to see the Church a heap of ruins. The houses were shaken violently & creaked much, the nails being partially drawn.— I feel sure it is these accompaniments & the horror pictured in the faces of all the inhabitants, which communicates the dread that every one feels who has thus seen as well as felt an earthquake. In the forest it was a highly interesting but by no means awe-exciting phenomenon.— The effect of the tides was very curious; the great shock took place at the time of low-water; an old woman who was on the beach told me that the water flowed quickly but not in big waves to the high-water mark, & as quickly returned to its proper level; this was also evident by the wet sand. She said it flowed like an ordinary tide, only a good deal quicker. This very kind of irregularity in the tide happened two or three years since during an Earthquake at Chiloe & caused a great deal of groundless alarm.— In the course of the evening there were other weaker shocks; all of which seemed to produce the most complicated currents, & some of great strength in the Bay. The generally active Volcano of Villa-Rica, which is the only part of the Cordilleras in sight, appeared quite tranquil.— I am afraid we shall hear of damage done at Concepcion.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Here are the 5 New Jersey quakes

Thank you, commenter. Usually I am a good counter!  I had
to dig further at the
New Jersey Geological Survey to get
the fifth event.

m/d h:m:s deg deg km
2.3 02/18 01:42:35 40.86 74.55  4.0 8 mi WSW of Boonton,NJ
1.4 02/16 14:38:31 40.94 74.02 7.0 7 mi NNE of Teterboro,NJ
1.1 02/16 13:17:55 40.96 74.38 2.0 4 mi NNE of Boonton,NJ
2.4 02/14 17:22:22 40.94 74.39 2.0 3 mi NNE of Boonton,NJ
3.0 02/02 22:34:19 40.87 74.52 5.0 6 mi WSW of Boonton,NJ

Good story on Jersey quake, bad graphic and spelling

I enjoy poking around the web to see how events are reported. It's interesting that the small quakes in New Jersey got some play on the news in Tampa. Maybe it's because of all the snowbirds in Florida. The story is quite sound, but the graphic, well, it's a little over the top, and DEFINITELY not from the Ramapo fault zone in New Jersey. The words are sober, but does the image confuse and scare people? Is this journalism, or Hollywood? (Ok, I've looked again, and I think it is their generic earthquake pic, but this is still not a generic earthquake feature.)

From Tampa Bay 10:

Another eatthquake [sic] rattles New Jersey

Another minor earthquake occured [sic] Wednesday morning in New Jersey. This is the fourth earthquake measured in north central New Jersey since February 14, 2009.

The latest earthquake occured [sic] on February 17, 2009 at 1:42 a.m. EST and measured a 2.3 on the Richter scale. It was centered roughly 3.1 miles below the town of Victory Gardens, NJ. No damage or injuries were reported.

Earthquakes in the eastern U.S. typically occur less frequently than the west coast, but because of the geomorphic make up of east coast, those earthquakes can be felt further away. 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.

The northeast U.S. urban corridor is laced with known faults, but numerous smaller or deeply buried faults remain undetected. As a result, it is even more difficult to determine what faults east coast earthquakes originate from.

Five small New Jersey quakes in the last three weeks

Map of epicenters above, and list of events below, from the New Jersey Geological Survey.

1 km SSE of Dover, NJ on 2-18-2009, 1:42am (EST), Magnitude 2.3, Depth 4 km, Latitude 40.868 N and Longitude 74.551 W.

1 km ESE of Oradell, NJ on 2-16-2009, 2:38pm (EST), Magnitude 1.4, Depth 7 km, Latitude 40.948 N and Longitude 74.022 W.

3 km SSW of Kinnelon, NJ on 2-16-2009, 1:18pm (EST), Magnitude 1.1, Depth 2 km, Latitude 40.963 N and Longitude 74.389 W.

5 km NNE of Boonton, NJ on 2-14-2009, 5:22pm (EST), Magnitude 2.4, Depth 2 km, Latitude 40.948 N and Longitude 74.392 W.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Jersey struck again by minor quake

The latest quake is shown in blue.

With our own Won-Young Kim, quoted, here is the report from the Lehigh Valley Express-Times:

Recent vibrations didn't cross the border, but minor earthquakes remain possible in Warren, Hunterdon counties

Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The Express-Times

Residents in Warren and Hunterdon counties did not feel the second recent earthquake to hit nearby Morris County, but the northwestern part of the state remains just as vulnerable to a little ground shaking.

From Allamuchy Township to Milford, earthquakes have a minor history in the two counties. Preparing for earthquakes in this section of the country is difficult because the incidents tend to occur infrequently and on a small scale, according to seismology experts.

"People shouldn't lose any sleep over it," said Martha Oliver Withjack, a professor in the Rutgers University Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences.

A small earthquake hit about 5:30 p.m. Saturday with a magnitude of 2.4, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The agency received 81 responses within 56 miles of the epicenter near Boonton from people who said they felt it.

Reports came from parts of New York and northern New Jersey but not Warren and Hunterdon counties, the agency reported.

An earthquake Feb. 2, with a magnitude of 3.0, was centered in the Morris County municipalities of Rockaway, Dover and Morris Plains. People reported feeling that one in Hackettstown, Blairstown Township, Belvidere, Hampton, Lebanon and Readington Township, according to the USGS.

Two earthquakes occurring in such a close time span is unusual, but Won-Young Kim, a seismologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., said he wouldn't be surprised to see another earthquake today.

Both earthquakes occurred along the Ramapo Fault, a roughly 200-million-year-old system of faults stretching from southeastern New York to eastern Pennsylvania. Most of the seismic activity in New Jersey occurs in that area, Kim said.

Parallel fault lines running through Warren and Hunterdon counties help explain the rare earthquakes that have occurred locally.

A 3.5-magnitude earthquake occurred in August 2003 in Milford, followed by a 2.1-magnitude earthquake last July in the borough. The last earthquake of that or greater strength in Warren County occurred in 1986 in the Allamuchy Township area.

Without more seismic stations in the western part of the state, smaller earthquakes might have gone unnoticed, Kim said.

"It's a quiet area," Kim added.

If an earthquake hits deeper underground, there will be less of an effect at the surface of the epicenter, but more people will feel the shaking across a larger distance, Kim said. The first of the two earthquakes was 5 kilometers deep, compared with 2 kilometers for Saturday's earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Unlike in California, the infrequency of earthquakes also makes them harder to predict, Withjack said. The rare occurrence of earthquakes leaves New Jersey residents unprepared to deal with a large-scale incident, she said.

"People prepare for what they're used to," Withjack said.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sending you Love waves for Valentine's Day

Click above for a larger image. Or look at an animation.

These come from Lawrence Braile, at Purdue University, who has lots of good educational materials about earthquakes and seismology online. He also tells us the following: Love waves are one type of surface waves. They are characterized by transverse horizontal motion, perpendicular to the direction of propagation and generally parallel to the Earth’s surface. The velocity of these waves are from 2.0-4.5 km/s depending on the frequency of the propagating wave. Love waves exist because of the Earth’s free surface. They are largest in amplitude at the surface and decrease in amplitude with depth. Love waves are dispersive, that is, the wave velocity is dependent on frequency, with low frequencies normally propagating at higher velocity. The depth of penetration of the Love waves is also dependent on frequency, with lower frequencies penetrating to greater depth.

May you all enjoy much Love for Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Waves in a large free sphere of water

From the International Space Station:

Is this basically the same as free oscillations of the whole Earth?

Thanks to Top 10 Amazing Physics Videos from Wired Science.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Seismic art?

I'm still trying to figure out the meaning of this seismo-artistic installation:

The Parkfield Interventional EQ Fieldwork (PIEQF) was a geologically interactive, kinetic earthwork that was temporarily installed in the remote township of Parkfield, Central California. This machine controlled earthwork ran autonomously for 91 days between the 18th August and 16th November 2008. PIEQF was triggered by near real-time reported Californian earthquakes from Magnitude M 0.1 and above.

This conceptual machine earthwork was a feedback loop between the seismicity of California and a physical and mechanical representation of all Californian seismic events. Each time a Californian earthquake occurred, an array of 5/8 inch steel rods attached to an earthquake shake table oscillated and resonated reflecting the dynamic nature of the Californian landscape. On average 30-60 seismic events occur throughout California daily.

While I explore, maybe you can enlighten us?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tsunami warning?

The breaking news at left suggests an Indonesian earthquake had tsunami potential.

However, NOAA's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center indicates this event is not tsunamigenic (my word of the day):
ISSUED AT 1746Z 11 FEB 2009


ORIGIN TIME - 1735Z 11 FEB 2009



Still, quite an event on F&M's seismograph (click on the seismogram for a larger image):

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Eastern earthquakes, explosions, truck crashes, and Morris dancing

Charles Scharnberger's comment on the last post was excellent. It is also interesting, but reasonable, how often our relatively infrequent eastern earthquakes are confused with explosions and truck crashes. Eastern quakes are usually small, so the shaking is more like a short pulse of energy, and there is sometimes an audible sound which probably makes people think of those other possibilities.

There is an interesting collection of reactions to the New Jersey earthquake in the story:
Morris County earthquake shakes residents, spares property
by Kristen Alloway/The Star-Ledger
Tuesday February 03, 2009, 6:50 PM
"Many who heard a boom and felt the ground shake thought their furnace had blown up. Others feared a truck or plane had crashed. Still others surmised there had been an explosion at Picatinny Arsenal, an Army base in Morris County that tests weapons."
Read the full story here.

And since we are in Morris County, does anyone else regret the demise of English Morris dancing? I used to do Scottish country dancing, and still contra dance once in a while, so I'm hoping this earthquake might spur Morris County citizens into a St. Vitus-like revival of Morris dancing.

Check out the trailer from the new movie Morris: A Life with Bells On.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Earthquake in Bethany, PA? ... NOT

My Google earthquake search turned up the item below. Bethany is 80 miles from the epicenter of the NJ earthquake reported two blogs back. I wonder how that rather small NJ earthquake could be felt at such a distance in Bethany, and even moreso, why the EMO would think Pennsylvanians would feel that quake 3 hours before it even happened?

Well, just to be sure, I checked the closest record on the LCSN network, from the BRNY station at Black Rock Forest, Cornwall, New York, 90 miles from Bethany, and I see nothing at 24 hours GMT, corresponding to the 7 pm local time mentioned. Perhaps too far away to sense a really small quake? But maybe it was the Martians after all?

click above for large image

Bethany On the Move
From the Mayor's Corner
Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Wayne Independent

Bethany is definitely on the Move! There's a whole lot of "moving and shaking" going on. Monday evening at approximately 7:00 p.m. the earth shook. At least it was on Bethany Hill, Old Wayne Street, Sugar Street, Spruce Street and on Wayne Street across from the library.

Coincidentally, at that time, a large boom and a burst of light transpired on Sugar Street. It was enough to make people come out of their homes on Sugar Street rush to the window, "and what to their wondering eyes should appear", but a huge flame, a light that shot up in the sky. Neighbors on Old Wayne Street came out in the snow to check their houses to see "what fell on their roofs. Could it have been a whole tree that fell on the roof and fallen to the ground? One citizen thought the plow had driven into his home! There was a mystery in Bethany.

Even though many citizens feel there are ghosts or spirits living in their homes, this noise and the feeling of the houses moving was a little too close for comfort! A second boom was felt, but much lighter in nature.

What could it be? One theory entertained was that perhaps the Martians had at last landed and we would see little people, "aliens" wandering around our borough. A resident called 911 and the police responded, we think... but if no one was hurt, and there were no accidents reported , there was nothing to investigate. We couldn't ALL be crazy! There was a lot of telephoning going on and together with the moving and the shaking, we accepted the fact that we actually did experience a strange phenomenon!

On television the next morning it was reported that "last evening in Morris Township, New Jersey, many people called in with reports of their houses shaking. " I called the Emergency Management Office, in the Wayne County Courthouse, and talked to the Director, Frank Smith.
He confirmed that there actually was an earthquake reported in New Jersey, and it traveled on the fault line to Bethany! We're in the news! But why the big light? And why would someone have a bon fire in the middle of a snow storm? Why would someone be burning a brush pile at night? Certainly a fire wouldn't start an earthquake!

When interviewed, one Bethany resident told me she saw a pig running down on Sugar Street not too many days before, and she wondered if "she was crazy". Now we're seeing lights and waiting for aliens to appear. Well, the pig, the lights and the earthquake are real! And rest assured, interested readers, that the "bumps in the night" are not visitors from another planet. We still have roughly 300 citizens of Bethany.. all earth dwellers, who are alive and well and feel quite contented to live in this happy little 999 square acres borough, bumps and all!
- Mayor Margaret Freeman

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Earthquakes in New Jersey?

Great Seal of the State of New Jersey

You can get more information about earthquakes in New Jersey from the:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Jersey earthquake, magnitude 3.0

Click above for a larger image
From LCSN Lamont seismograph station

Read NEIC report.

From the NY Times:

A small earthquake hit central New Jersey late Monday night, according to seismologists. No one was reported to have been injured.

Residents likened the earthquake, which struck just after 10:30 p.m., to everything from “a bomb” to an underground explosion to “a thump.”

The epicenter of the quake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 3.0, was reported at Victory Gardens, although it could be felt in Rockaway, Dover and Morris Plains, according to Won-Young Kim, a seismologist for the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in Palisades, N.Y.

The communities near the earthquake’s epicenter are in Morris County, about 35 miles west of Midtown Manhattan.

While 3.0 is a rather large earthquake for the metropolitan New York region, a temblor of that magnitude is unlikely to cause any major damage, Mr. Kim said.

Workers at an Exxon Station in Rockaway, N.J., said that the night was going along normally when the earthquake struck.

“It was like a bomb, a strong one,” said Cafer Sahin, 40, an attendant.

Tom Smaga, 27, was working inside the station when, he said, he first heard and then felt the earthquake.

“It was a loud boom and after that it shook the whole building,” Mr. Smaga said. He said the vibrations lasted for about two or three seconds.

Toni Dellamonica, a dispatcher for the Rockaway Township Police Department, said that there had been no reports of injuries or major damage.

Ms. Dellamonica said the earthquake felt like “a rolling rumble,” as if someone was dragging something across the ground.

In Dover, N.J., near the quake’s epicenter, Francis Rodriguez was playing cards with a friend when, she said, “it felt like something exploded underground.”

The shaking did not damage her house, she said, but her friend, Cheryll Post, who was visiting Ms. Rodriguez, said “it was very scary.” Patricia Avila, was in her second-floor apartment in Rockaway, N.J., when she felt what she described as “a loud thump.”

“It was just a bang,” Walter Michalski, a police officer in Dover, N.J., said of Monday’s earthquake. “That’s it. A bang.”

Peter Johnson, a dispatcher for the Morris Plains Police department, said “I wasn’t sure what it was. It was just a shaking.”

Mr. Kim of Lamont-Doherty said that low-level earthquakes are not unusual near that area.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 2 hit Phillipsburg, N.J., on July 28. A 2.6 magnitude quake struck Sussex County, N.J., on Feb. 17, 2006, and another quake, with a magnitude of 2.1, hit Morris County on Dec. 10, 2005.

Nate Schweber contributed reporting.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mt. Asama volcano in Japan

Mt. Asama volcano is erupting.

Both earthquakes and volcanoes are endothermal processes, both are very related to platge tectonics, and both can be monitored by real-time geophysics.

Thus, while I don't meant to go off forever on a volcano tangent, since they are nicely covered elsewhere, it is interesting to follow another developing volcanic scenario in Japan.

More news can be found where the photo came from, The Japan Times.

In light of what you can see about Redoubt at the Alaska Volcano Observatory, it is interesting how little you can find out about Asama from the Japanese Meteorological Agency. Just a brief update (although, nicely, this can be read in English), and a very static volcanic ash advisory map. No video, no seismographs. Yet Japan is very conscious of the natural hazards - earthquakes, volcanoes, cyclones - that it faces, so I wonder why the basic data seem so hard to come by? There are some video clips online, but mainly from the British press, such as The Guardian.