Nicole Higgins DeSmet and Joel Banner Baird, Burlington Free Press
Free Press editor Emilie Stigliani and reporter Joel Banner Baird discuss the morning's top headlines. EMILIE STIGLIANI, JOEL BANNER BAIRD, ABIGAIL SILIN/FREE PRESS
Early Wednesday, an earthquake struck an upstate New York town, located about 60 miles as the crow flies from Burlington, Vermont.
The earthquake, which registered at a 2.7 magnitude, struck near Malone, New York, at 5 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Magnitudes 2.5 to 3 are the smallest generally felt by people.
Malone is in Franklin County, New York, a short distance from the Canadian border crossing at Cornwall.
Vermonters have felt quakes originating in Canada and as far away as Virginia, likely due to the bedrock beneath much of the eastern part of the continent. Vermont State Geologist Lawrence Becker said in a 2014 interview that the composition of the ground was a superb medium for transmitting shock waves over long distances.
New England, according to the Vermont Geological Survey, sits on relatively stable bedrock. But, Beck said in most of Chittenden County the ground composition is made up of Loosely packed rock and soil which can translate a medium-sized quiver in the bedrock into side-to-side (lateral) heaving on the surface.
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Eons ago, the bedrock beneath New England was hammered by continental collisions. In more recent centuries, less-severe (but still notable) earthquakes have rattled the region's human settlers:
- 1638: A "violent" quake, probably centered in the St. Lawrence Valley, felt throughout New England.
- 1755: Vermonters felt a quake centered east of Cape Ann, Mass.
- 1867: An early morning earthquake woke folks in Burlington, as well as Syracuse, N.Y., and Hamilton, Ontario.
- 1904: A quake centered in southeastern Maine was felt throughout New England and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Chimneys damaged at Calais and Eastport, Maine, and St. Stephen, New Brunswick.
- 1929: A magnitude 7.2 shock in the Grand Banks of the Atlantic Ocean severed 12 submarine cables and cracked plaster in Hartford.
- 1935: A magnitude 6.25 quake near Timiskaming, Quebec. Witnesses in Vermont reported shaking beds, rattling windows and dishes.
- 1940: Estimated at magnitude 5.8, a quake near Lake Ossipee, N.H., displaced bricks on old chimneys in Bloomfield, Vt.
- 1952: Near Burlington, a local quake estimated at magnitude 6.0 cracked pavement, basement walls and a city gas main. Ground cracks observed in the North End.
- 1955: Another quake centered in Burlington, at magnitude 5.0. A new ground crack documented in North End.
- 1962: A western Vermont quake on April 10 (magnitude 5.0) thoroughly shook the Vermont Statehouse, dislodging a support beam, weakening two beams and cracking 20 window panes.
- 1973: Shock from a magnitude 5.2 earthquake centered in western Maine was felt throughout New England and eastern Quebec. Residents in Canaan and Montpelier reported cracked plaster, chimneys separating from walls and road fractures.
- 2002: A moderately powerful earthquake (magnitude 5.1) centered in the Adirondack foothills 15 miles southwest of Plattsburgh, N.Y., shook Vermont and upstate New York at 6:50 a.m. April 20. Among the damages: The temblor severely damaged an attic beam in the old North Hero Town Hall and cracked a chimney at Champlain College's Hill Hall in Burlington.
- 2010: A magnitude 5.0 quake with an epicenter located on the Quebec-Ontario border rocked Vermont at 1:45 p.m. June 24, and could be felt as far away as Cleveland.
- 2011: A 5.8 magnitude quake originating near Mineral, Va., in the early afternoon Aug. 23 was keenly felt by thousands of Vermonters.
- 2013: Northern Vermont experienced a mild earthquake at about 9:45 a.m. May 17. The quake originated near Ottawa, Canada, and measured magnitude 5.2. An aftershock, magnitude 4.1, took place about 10 minutes later.
- 2016: The Starksboro area was shaken — very slightly — by a magnitude 1.8 earthquake on Christmas morning,
- 2017: Northern Vermont experienced a mild earthquake at about 9:45 a.m. May 17. The quake originated near Ottawa, Canada, and measured magnitude 5.2. An aftershock, magnitude 4.1, took place about 10 minutes later.
Source: Vermont Geological Survey