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Butte seismograph registered New Jersey earthquake from 2,200 miles away

Posted at 6:30 PM, Apr 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-08 13:26:31-04

BUTTE — Many people on the East Coast felt a 4.8 magnitude earthquake centered in New Jersey on Friday; in fact, it was even registered all the way over here in Butte, Montana on a seismograph on the campus of Montana Tech.

Large East Coast earthquakes are rare, but when they happen, it really shakes people up.

“I’m sure many of them are, because it’s an unusual occurrence and it probably caught everybody by surprise,” said Montana Tech’s Director of Earthquake Studies Mike Stickney.

The quake’s epicenter was in central New Jersey early on Friday, April 5. Though no major damage was reported from the quake it was felt by millions of people.

“This earthquake goes to prove that nowhere is completely immune from the possibility of earthquakes,” said Stickney.

Stickney said seismic activity is very common in Montana and the Western United States. Though quakes are rare on the East Coast, they could be devastating due to the dense population.

“You can have a magnitude 8 earthquake and if there’s nobody and no buildings anywhere in sight, it’s not going to affect anybody, but you have that same earthquake in a populated area and it’s a disaster,” he said.

The New Jersey quake registered on the Montana Tech seismograph more than 2,200 miles away. The Butte seismograph was built in 1936 and is the oldest continually used seismograph in the state.

Montana has had a significant history of large earthquakes including:

  • 1925: A 6.6 magnitude quake north of Three Forks
  • 1935: Two 6-magnitude quakes near Helena that damaged 60 percent of the buildings.
  • 1959: A 7.3 magnitude quake at Hebgen Lake that killed 29 people.