‘Something is moving around down there.’ 3 earthquakes under Lake Erie in the past week

Experts said they are not aftershocks, but actual earthquakes.

‘Something is moving around down there’: 3 earthquakes under Lake Erie in the past week

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -In the past week there have been three earthquakes under Lake Erie, off the coast of East Lake and Mentor, with the latest one happening Wednesday.

The first quake was Saturday Dec. 7 with a 2.6 magnitude, followed by a 1.7 on Dec. 10, and a 2.0 on Dec. 11.

Here are the locations and magnitudes of the three earthquakes Northeast Ohio has had in the past week.
Here are the locations and magnitudes of the three earthquakes Northeast Ohio has had in the past week. (Source: USGS)

Dr. David Saja, Curator of Mineralogy for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, said based on the magnitude sizes jumping around, Monday and Tuesday’s quakes were not aftershocks.

“Something is moving around down there,” Saja said.

Although we’ve had three in a week, Saja said this is normal.

“Northeastern Ohio is a zone where they do tend to occur more frequently, and is considered a tectonically active zone,” Saja said. “So yes, we do see 1 and 2 magnitude earthquakes (those just below what can be sensed by a human) on a regular basis. Ohio’s seismic zone is nothing close to the activity at the tectonic plate boundary such as the San Andreas fault zone running through California.”

It is possible the current quakes we’ve been having are a side-effect of the larger one felt throughout Northeast Ohio on June 10, an not a sign of something bigger to come.

In fact there have been seven quakes under Lake Erie since the June event:

  1. June 10: 4.0 M
  2. June 15: 1.8 M
  3. June 17: 1.6 M
  4. Oct. 15: 2.6 M
  5. Dec. 7: 2.6M
  6. Dec. 10: 1.7M
  7. Dec. 11: 2.0M

“Historically the earthquakes that occur in Northeast Ohio are typically below 5 in magnitude,” Saja said. “Most likely the fault that produced the earthquake back in June is still adjusting and distributing the stresses. But 5 kilometers down we cannot see what is going on. If another earthquake does occur it is highly unlikely that it will be larger than a 4 in magnitude based upon historical trends.”

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