Could an Earthquake Hit the Lehigh Valley?

After the recent earthquake in Maine, what are the chances one could hit the Lehigh Valley?

As far as natural disasters go, earthquakes tend to be far from the minds of Lehigh Valley residents. That is, of course, until a recent 4.0 magnitude earthquake in Maine brought the possibility closer to home. 

That earthquake, as well as the one last year in Virginia, have several Lehigh Valley residents questioning whether an earthquake of similar magnitude could possible hit the Lehigh Valley. 

So, could the Lehigh Valley experience an earthquake? 

It's not very likely, says Dr. Larry Malinconico, associate professor of Geology and Geophysics at Lafayette College in Easton. 

"The fact of the matter is that earthquakes tend to occur at active tectonic margins," said Malinconico. "The recent earthquake occurred on old faults that are reactivated for some reason, but it's rare."

While the Lehigh Valley does have some old fault lines, Malinconico says any activity along these lines would be extremely rare. "These local fault lines are from hundreds of millions of years ago. Any activity along these lines are fairly scattered." 

That's not to say that the Lehigh Valley has been immune to earthquakes throughout history. The U.S. Geological Survey reports a few small to midsize earthquakes in our area, the last one of moderate magnitude hitting Sept 14, 1961. 

As far as natural disasters go, Malinconico says that earthquakes should be near the bottom of our list. 

"The biggest [natural disaster concerns for the valley] is flooding," he said, citing the recent flooding from Hurricane Irene as an example. "Earthquakes are nothing to worry about from a short-term or long-term perspective."

93GEO-Metro October 19, 2012 at 10:36 PM
But after living here in Nazareth all my young life, whenever the cement mills would blast on the "Main Line" our whole house would shake and we did experience several cracked windows because of it. So when we felt the recent tremors, I thought one of the mills were blasting again and it was no big deal for me.
tamarya October 19, 2012 at 11:30 PM
If we have an EQ centered in the L.V we won't need the insurance our house would just collapse on us since it is a mobile home, because there probably is no way I am getting out before it falls apart on me.
Yertle1 October 20, 2012 at 03:04 AM
There was a quake in the LV in 1961
Heather Depew October 20, 2012 at 03:50 PM
You're welcome!!! Any time!
Yertle1 October 20, 2012 at 09:38 PM
In reference to the Friedensville mine water, decades ago Dr Trembley, a biology professor wrote weekly articles in the Morning Call When the mines stopped pumping the threat of the water rising unprohibited was a concern. His thoughts were that the water could possibly rise to area's that were now largely inhabited. There is no record of the land area prior to the zinc mine operation. If the water would return to its centuries old locations, he said people could wake up to find there house (and them) in the middle of a pond or stream. He also said it could be a surprise along the new (at the time not completed) I-78. Luckily the township is now pumping and using the water and it is in check.


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