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Dozens in N.J. report feeling earthquake, but U.S. Geological Survey detects none | NJ.com

December 11, 2011

 

Dozens in N.J. report feeling earthquake, but U.S. Geological Survey detects none

Published: Saturday, December 10, 2011, 5:40 PM     Updated: Saturday, December 10, 2011, 10:02 PM
People stand on the corner of Broad and Green streets in Newark after Newark City Hall and other area building were evacuated after the 5.9-magnitude earthquake in August.

Floors shook, bottles rattled, bells jingled, and scores of New Jersey residents up and down the state cried “earthquake!” yesterday morning. Was this the state’s second rattler in four months?

Despite more than 60 residents who claimed to have felt shaking yesterday morning, a spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey said none of the seismometers stationed around the state picked up even a hint of trembling.

“It’s not an earthquake,” said geophysicist John Bellini, speaking from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Colorado office. “My guess would be it’s more likely thunder or sonic boom.”

New Jersey has been rocked this year by half a dozen extreme weather and geological events, including a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia that shook buildings across the Garden State in August.

This time, the first-hand reports began streaming in around 10 a.m. yesterday from Egg Harbor, Cranbury, East Brunswick, North Brunswick, Trenton, Somerset, Edison, Plainfield, Piscataway, Iselin, South Plainfield and others, Bellini said.

At 11 a.m., Anthony Camaioni tweeted from his family’s dry cleaning shop in North Brunswick, “Yea I think it definitely happened again. #earthquake in #NJ The bells jingled in the store.” Others posted on Twitter around the same time that they felt their homes sway and heard glass bottles clinking for between 10 and 30 seconds.

Bellini pointed to a band of thunderstorms off the state’s coastline or covert activities at Fort Dix or McGuire Air Force Base in southern Jersey as possible explanations for what residents might have felt.

A spokesman for the National Weather Service said its unlikely that even severe thunderstorms could make the ground feel as through it’s shaking.

Fighter jets used in drills near Virginia and North Carolina have caused sonic booms — the noise and vibration associated with traveling faster than the speed of sound — which can be mistaken for earthquakes, Bellini said.

A spokesman for Fort Dix did not return calls for comment.

Salvatore Saieva of Woodcliff Lake in Bergen County initially took to Twitter to report the earthquake to friends, but later said the military could be responsible for what he felt.

“My experience could be explained by a sonic boom,” Saieva wrote on Twitter. “Bottles rattled, but I didn’t feel anything shaking beneath me.”

Staff writer Nic Corbett contributed to this story.

Dozens in N.J. report feeling earthquake, but U.S. Geological Survey detects none | NJ.com.

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