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4.0 Earthquake Hits Northeast Ohio

Updated 4:17 p.m., 6/10/19

A magnitude 4.0 earthquake hit the Cleveland area around 10:50 a.m. Monday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The epicenter was in Lake Erie, approximately four kilometers north-northwest of Eastlake.

Eastlake police and the Lake County Emergency Management Agency say they received no reports of injuries or damage, but that people flooded their phone lines asking what had happened.

USGS says reports of those who felt the earth move came in from as far west as Toledo and as far east as Pittsburgh.

With an office in downtown Cleveland close to a massive construction project, Julia Zettl with the Association for Corporate Growth Cleveland is used to feeling what she calls "local percussion," even on the fourth floor. But this was different, she said.

"It’s different than rumbling, it was more like a rolling feeling. So that’s when I realized, 'Oh my God, that is absolutely an earthquake'," Zettl said. “When a truck rolls by, the horizontal blinds will bounce. But in this case, they were shimmying back and forth and you could see the undulating wave motion.”

She, like many Clevelanders, immediately took to Twitter to confirm their suspicions.

"If it’s an isolated incident, then it was construction at the Statler Arms and we’re the only ones who are going to feel it" Zettl said. "But as soon as I saw #EarthquakeCleveland, you just started seeing it roll in on Twitter, I was like, okay, we’re not nuts, this is exactly what it was."

Little Quakes Everywhere

Earthquakes are actually quite frequent along Lake Erie, especially in Lake County according Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), but they seldom reach the magnitude felt Monday. ODNR which initially rated the earthquake a magnitude 4.4, said that would be strong enough to scare people and move furniture, but damage is usually minimal.

“That part of Ohio is one of the most seismically active regions in the state,” said Jeff Fox, a seismologist with the state of Ohio. “In our catalogue, we have almost 150 earthquakes recorded in that part, especially the Lake County, Ashtabula County area, going back to the 1800's.”

Fox says their seismograph is located close to Monday's quake, which might explain why some measured the quake at 4.0, while others measured it at 4.4.

“Our final estimate is right around 4.2, and that agrees with some other regional network operators. The USGS uses kind of a blanket Eastern U.S. velocity model to calculate.”

Dr. David Saja, curator of minerals at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History says the impact felt from the quake comes down to direction.

“Which direction the waves were dominantly propagating in and the motion of the fault, the direction of the fault,” he said.

And the idea of “earthquake weather” might sound like a joke, but Saja says it's typical for Ohio to get earthquakes during the rainy season.

“That water can seep into some fault zones and other cracks and allow stresses to migrate,” he said. “So instead of actually rupturing as a fault or an earthquake, the energy is displaced down the fault a bit, where it does stick. Now it might have extra stress in that area, creating an earthquake.”

The state says several aftershocks were recorded measuring in magnitude from 2.1 to 2.5. Generally, only quakes above 2.5 can be felt.

No major damage has been reported from Monday's earthquake so far.


An earlier headline and caption on this story said the earthquake measured a magnitude 4.4. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources originally measured it at 4.4, then revised its estimate to 4.2. The U.S. Geological Survey measured it at 4.0.

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