A small earthquake shook an eastern section of New Jersey early on Wednesday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, officials said.
The U.S. Geological Survey said that the 3.1-magnitude earthquake occurred at about 2 a.m. near East Freehold, a community of about 4,800 people. But people around Monmouth County, a coastal area of more than 600,000 people, reported feeling the earthquake’s effects.
Sheriff Shaun Golden, speaking to a local reporter for WNBC, said workers in the county’s operations center had felt tremors they likened to “jet engines for a few seconds flying overhead,” followed by a “little rattle.” Then the department was deluged by 911 calls from concerned residents, he said.
Sheriff Golden said further damage assessments would be conducted early on Wednesday. “Just a lot of nerves,” he said.
An earthquake measured at 3.0 is large for the metropolitan New York region. In 2009, an earthquake of that strength hit northern New Jersey, with its epicenter in Morris County, about 35 miles west of Midtown Manhattan.
The largest in the state was a 4.8 magnitude near Trenton in 1938, said Robert Sanders, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center.
Within a 10-mile radius of Wednesday’s earthquake, there was a 3.5-magnitude earthquake in 1979 and a 3.1- magnitude earthquake in 1992, he said.
“For the Eastern United States, we don’t really have a lot of defined fault areas,” he said in an interview. “They are just not as active regions.”
The earthquake on Wednesday was about three miles deep. “An earthquake of this magnitude is relatively rare, one every few decades,” he said.