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Buffalo’s History Of Earthquakes – Not So Uncommon

5.8 Earthquake Centered In Mineral, Virginia
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The big topic around town, on the drive to work, at the water cooler is about the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Virginia and was felt along the east coast, including Buffalo as well.  Honestly, I didn’t feel it, so its not as exciting of a topic to me.  Since it is making news, I decided to research the history of earthquakes in Western New York and this is what I found.

The first notable tremor within the state of New York happened on December 18th in 1737!  At that time it was labeled an intensity VII…which means 7

-In October of 1857 ….walls vibrated and objects fell from shelves, when an intensity VI (6) shook Buffalo.  In Lockport, rumbling noises were heard for at least 1 minute. The quake was felt well into Canada, Rochester, New York;  and into Pennsylvania. The total felt area = approximately 46,000 square kilometers.

– On August 12th of 1929 a quake was felt in the Attica area . A number of chimneys fell, plaster cracked and a number of buildings suffered extensive damage from what was labeled as an intensity VIII (5.6 on richter).   There was an increased flow at the Attica reservoir  for days after the quake.  Damage was reported in Batavia and other points at similar distances.

November 1st of 1935– An earthquake shakes WNY for roughly 2 minutes.  Walls and ceilings cracked, but no injuries were reported.

February 23rd, 1939– Attica feels it again.  This one caused severe damage and was felt over a 100 thousand square mile area!

-September 4th, 1944- a quake centered in eastern Ontario was felt in Buffalo. The tremor hit at 11:39pm

September 20th, 1946- Niagara Falls experiences an earthquake.  Geologists would later blame the quake for weakening a fault and loosening rock behind the Schoellkopf power station, which led to its collapse during a rock slide in June of 1956!

-A 4.7 magnitude earthquake in January of 1966 hit Attica and Varysburg .  The main smoke stack and walls inside Attica State Prison were damaged.  Total felt area= about 47-thousand square kilometers.

May 25th, 1995 (I remember this one)- a 3.0 magnitude earthquake was felt in WNY around 10 in the morning.  The epicenter was believed to be somewhere in Tonawanda.

-September 25th, 1998 (this one too)-A 5.0 centered in Pennsylvania was also felt in WNY.



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