3.8 magnitude earthquake recorded in Buffalo last Monday

Photo by: Brenden Cowan

Last Monday, Buffalo felt their strongest recorded earthquake in the last 40 years, its effects reaching the Niagara region.

The 3.8 magnitude earthquake took place nearly 2 kilometres east-northeast of West Seneca around 6:15 a.m. on Feb. 6. The earthquake had a recorded depth just short of 3 kilometres. Geological data recorded the exact location of the earthquake to be 42.856°N 78.776°W.

Although Monday marked the largest earthquake in the area as of recently, there have been a total of 24 earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.5 in the West Seneca region since 1983. Another 3.8 magnitude earthquake had taken place in 1999 in western New York.

According to Yaareb Altaweel, a seismologist at the National Earthquake Information Centre, earthquakes in the Northeastern area are quite common, and a 3.8 magnitude is not likely to do much damage.

“There was one, a 2.6, in March 2022. There were another two in 2020. These keep happening in this region at a low magnitude,” stated Altaweel in an article published by NBC News.

Earthquakes, however, are much more common and severe in the west in comparison, as rocks in Eastern North America are often harder and denser. This causes seismic waves, shockwaves of energy that are released from the earthquake focus, to cross over the east more efficiently. In the west, on the other hand, rocks are younger and more broken up, causing seismic wave energy to be absorbed by the faults and the energy being released to spread less efficiently.

Despite last week’s event being mild, residents in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls were able to feel its effects. 

“I sure felt it this morning in @NiagaraFalls – did you?” wrote Niagara Falls mayor, Jim Diodati, in a tweet.

All areas surrounding West Seneca, southern Ontario included, felt the effects from the earthquake, but reported no damages.

A separate 7.8 magnitude earthquake also took place last Monday in Turkey, followed by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. The event has killed more than 33,000 people and counting in both Turkey and its neighbouring country Syria. Rescue crews continue to search for survivors.

In light of the event, Niagara Falls played tribute to the victims affected on Wednesday, Feb. 8. The city lit up the Falls in red and white for Turkey’s flag, as well as red, white and green for Syria’s flag.

In contrast to the aftermath brought on by the Turko-Syrian earthquake, Niagara residents will go on largely unaffected by last week’s small event just south of the border.

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