New York Fault Line?

As some of you may have seen, one of the networks will have a mini-series this fall about an earthquake striking New York City. In part of the commercial, a “newscaster” says that although it’s well-known that NYC sits on a major fault line, nobody has ever paid attention to it.

This just made me wonder if this is true – is there really a “major fault line” in/at/around NYC, or is this completely bogus so they could make a mini-series?

Sounds like they’re talking about the Clarendon-Lindon fault. Read more at .

Ah, hell, you’re talking about New York City. Hardly Western New York. Let me check into it a little further.

Thinking back to may days in Westchester, we did have a little baby quake. I think they located the epicenter in Ardsley (which is about 30 miles north of The Only City That Matters.) Not sure if NYC felt it though.

Yeah, this site says that Ardsley’s had a few, none larger than 2.7:

Seems like most NY quakes occur in upper Westchester and further upstate.

Try this site both for fault locations and the sort of germ idea that can get a movie producer’s blood stirring:

Among the known or suspected faults (from the web site): “About 400 million years ago, Africa collided with North America, swallowing a proto-Atlantic ocean called the Iapetus Ocean, in what geologists call “subduction.” In closing, it left behind a suturelike geological formation known as Cameron’s Line, which runs through the Bronx, down the East River, past Gracie Mansion, under the Queensboro Bridge, through Staten Island, and all the way down to Charleston, South Carolina.”
“As the glaciers retreated, they left little valleys in the fault zones, valleys we can see today, such as the one along 125th Street, which takes a dodge on the East Side and meets the Cameron Line at Gracie Mansion for a trip down the East River.”
“Manhattan’s other fault lines can be found running across Dyckman Street in northern Manhattan on an east-west line from Broadway in the 200s through Harlem to East 125th Street; on an east-west line from the Intrepid Museum down to Alphabet City; and on two much older north-south lines, one down the Hudson from 42nd Street into the harbor and the other along Broadway from the upper Thirties through Chambers Street and then into Battery Park.”

It is an interesting site that appears legitimate (if scary).

One aspect that they don’t discuss at length is the concept of a mid-plate flex quake. In this scenario, you don’t need sliding fault lines to produce a quake: if the edges of a plate are compressed from two sides, the plate can flex (like pushing in the rim of a Frisbee), causing a quake. Of course, the scenarios that they do discuss are pretty bad, so maybe they don’t need another variety of quake.


Good catch, Tom. Searching under “Cameron’s Line.” I found some more stuff, but none of the references even hint that it’s a earthquake waiting to happen.

Here’s a general diagram of Cameron’s Line, BTW.

OK. A “ductile shear zone” exists right under Rudy Guiliani’s house. Apparently it’s been studied a great deal. If there is a geological time bomb under the Financial Hub of the Known Universe, why isn’t its existence more well known?

The East Coast has its share of seismicity. It just doesn’t happen very often. There was a big quake in Massachusetts in colonial times and a very destructive quake in Charleston, SC in the 19th century.

I don’t recall any major quakes hitting NYC in recorded history.

However, it only takes one to make a real mess and I wonder if NYC buildings are built to the same code as California and Massachusetts buildings (which I believe are the only two states with stringet seismic codes. Not that the codes may help as recent studies have shown that the most recent technique of building steel skyscrapers may not be particularly effective either.)

Tomndebb says that,

Scary it is, indeed!

This site is dedicated to all sorts of New Age stuff, from “divination”, to “…Astrology, Wicca & Pagan, UFO’s & ET’s, Ascension, Earth Changes, Channelings, Crystals,Dreams, Angels, Magick, Karma, Meditation, Healing, etc.”

I can barely imagine the possibility of getting reliable scientific information in its pages. But just to be sure, I read the article mentioned by tomndebb.

Surely, one of the Geologists mentioned in it is a Senior Scientist at Columbia University. But to me it seems that his words were taken out of context, and presented in an “interview/report” format that gives one the idea of this man stating how probable is that NY will be hit by an earthquake VERY soon.

I suggest you take a look at this page, earthquakes, and also check the USGS website.

To me, these are a little more reliable than a New Age Website. I, of course, could be wrong.

Men will cease to commit atrocities only when they cease to believe absurdities.

Sorry, the New Age site I referred to is:

::Gag:: “The Only City That Matters” ::retch::

In 1985 or possibly 1986, I was living in eastern Queens (Queens Village within a stone’s throw of the Cross Island Pkwy) in a large institutional building, sleeping, when I woke up with the impression that some inconsiderate asshole on the floor above me was rolling freight cars full of ore directly over my head; loud bass rumble, building shook. A few moments later, I came awake enough to reconsider the likelihood of that and grabbed robe and stepped out into the hallway rubbing my eyes and learned from the night nurses that we had just had a minor earthquake. I do not recall the season of the year, let alone the exact date.

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The principle reason for posting the site was that it provided actual locations of faults–which was David’s OP.

I have no more reliance on New Age dreck than anyone else, in general. I am certainly not going to jump on any bandwagon claiming that NYC is going to tumble down, soon.

On the other hand, the supporting facts related in the article (Manhattan bedrock vs the quivering jelly that is Flushing and the Meadowlands, the friability of brownstone construction, etc.) is consistent with any other reports I have seen on New York.

It remains the site with the clearest description of faults in the city. For a more balanced view of the opinions of Dr. Klaus (who was so prominently featured on the New Age page) see .


AHunter3 - I remember waking up to an earthquake in Kingston, Ontario, about the same time. I think it was fairly widespread, in both Ontario and Quebec.

AHunter, that also sounds like about the time Ohio experienced a fairly decent earthquake. It was, IIRC, January 1986. I was in high school at the time, in Perry, Ohio, right up the street from a nuclear power plant. You can imagine how exciting that was.

I remember reading that Jamaica Bay had an earthquake sometime at the beginning of the century - I wanna say in the '30s, but I really am drawing a blank here - and it measured in the 5’s on the scale (not Herculean, but not tiny) and it did some damage to areas of Queens.

I can’t recall any other specific details. I believe this would be a great spot for Cecil to edify us…

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Apparently there was a quake in the 30s, Satan. I checked the link I gave a few posts back and found NYC quakes.

DEC 19, 1737 IMM=6
DEC 11, 1874 IMM=5
AUG 10, 1884 IMM=6 M=4.3
AUG 11, 1884 IMM=5 M=2.8
MAR 09, 1893 IMM=5 M=2.5
MAY 16, 1899 IMM=2
JUL 19, 1937 IMM=4 M=3.1

M is the magnitude, IMM is the Modified Mercalli Intensity at the epicenter. Just to give you and idea an IMM of 6 (out of 12)is defined as:

Felt by all; many frightened and run outdoors. Persons walk unsteadily. Pictures fall off walls. Furniture moved or overturned. Weak plaster and masonry cracked. Small bells ring (church, school). Trees, bushes shaken.

I can see it now. “Hey! You’re shakin’ my bush ovah here!”

Wasn’t the most powerfull recorded quake in the US epicentered near where St. Louis now is in the 1850’s or so?

>>Being Chaotic Evil means never having to say your sorry…unless the other guy is bigger than you.<<

—The dragon observes

pldennison, another earthquake? I lived in Cincinnati when they had a tremor in 1979(?) that registered 3+ on the Richter scale. I’m beginning to wonder if Ohio is such a safe place to live!

Thankfully I live near Phoenix on some future beachfront property!

Narile –

Yes, but the date was 1811 – it was near New Madrid, MO. And, for the record, the accent is on the first syllable of Madrid – MAA-drid, not muh-DRID, as in the Spanish city.


“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

I was about to mention the New Madrid fault, but I see Pluto beat me to it. I will throw out a site with really good information on the fault at

Faults can appear at places other than the edges of plates and earthquakes can occur in places with no faults. I remember seeing somewhere that mid-plate earthquakes are less common but are more powerful than quakes along the edges of plates. I’ll try to dig up a cite.

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