Delaware Public Media

Magnitude 4.1 earthquake hits Delaware, centered near Dover

Nov 30, 2017

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake hit Delaware around 4:48 p.m. Thursday, with an epicenter about six miles east to northeast of Dover, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.


David Wunsch, the director of the Delaware Geological Survey, says the earthquake was unusual for Delaware because the state is not near any active faults.

"We’re kind of more in the center of a plate, but that’s not to say they’re not under stress and we do have these small quakes now and then," Wunsch said.

Delaware Emergency Management Agency says there are no reports of any damage at this time.

 

But people definitely felt it. Ted Celeste with National Institute for Civil Discourse is visiting Dover for a workshop and was walking to his hotel room when it hit.

 "Walking down the eighth floor hall to our room, [we] felt what felt like a loud thump, like something had fallen on the floor up above us. I actually think I said 'it sounded like some plane breaking the sound barrier', you know, that loud," Celeste said. 

According to a tsunami information statement from the National Tsunami Warning Center, the earthquake did not have a high enough magnitude to generate a tsunami. David Hale is a senior watch stander with the National Tsunami Warning Center.

"Anywhere where there is a potential of an uplift of the seafloor or a landslide that moves a lot of materials out into deeper water that could displace water, could potentially generate a tsunami," Hale said. "In this particular case, this earthquake did not have the magnitude to displace enough water to generate a tsunami."

Most earthquakes result from a release of stress that builds up in the continental plate.

This 4.1 magnitude earthquake matches the largest ever recorded in the First State — a 4.1 earthquake in October 1871.

The last earthquake felt in Delaware was a 5.8 magnitude one centered in Virginia in August 2011.

 

"It's just an eye opening experience that we are subject to earthquakes," Wunsch said. "I think people do get a little complacent all along the East Coast because we have them kind of infrequently."

 

Delaware Public Media's Sarah Mueller contributed to this story.