URI Geophysics professor available for expert interviews

Magnitude 4.8 earthquake centered in New Jersey Friday felt in Rhode Island

KINGSTON, R.I. — April 5, 2024 — A magnitude 4.8 earthquake centered in New Jersey was felt along the east coast Friday morning, including throughout much of Rhode Island. While the quake was not considered particularly significant, it is noteworthy due to its rarity in the region, according to University of Rhode Island Professor of Geosciences Brian Savage.

“It was significant enough that people relatively close to it feel it, and people in the immediate area may have some things falling off shelves, but there is probably not a significant amount of damage,” Savage said. “They do happen in this area occasionally, but they are rare, so people notice. If there were a whole collection of 4.8 earthquakes at once, that would be slightly concerning, but having one is not something of great concern.”

Savage noted that more people tend to feel even small earthquakes on the east coast as opposed to the west, due to the structure of the rock in this area. Seismic wave energy travels differently through the ground in different locations. The geologic makeup of the east coast allows the energy to travel faster and further through the ground, impacting more people.

“The rock here is more cohesive and the energy moves through it differently, spreading out further,” Savage said. “Plus, we’re more densely populated around the east coast, so more people are likely to feel it.”

Savage is a geophysics expert in the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences, whose research focuses on determining complex seismic velocity structures within the solid earth, primarily the crust and upper mantle.

Professor Savage is available to provide expert interviews on today’s earthquake. He can be reached at 662-376-2557 or savage@uri.edu.