SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The trio of earthquakes that rattled Rhode Island this past weekend weren’t damaging, but sure did startle the people who felt them.
While earthquakes aren’t a common occurrence along the East Coast, University of Rhode Island geological sciences professor Brian Savage tells 12 News it’s not unusual for them to happen in clusters.
“I would consider this a cluster of earthquakes … probably not significant aftershocks,” he said.
The earthquakes hit early Saturday morning, Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, all of which were centered between 10 and 12 miles southeast of Point Judith.
No damage was reported from any of the tremors, with the strongest of the three earthquakes being Magnitude 2.5.
Shaking and rumbling from the earthquakes was felt in coastal communities spanning from Westerly to Westport.
Savage said the earthquakes likely formed along a very old fault or collection of faults, perhaps left behind from when New England was attached to Africa.
“There were two existing faults that existed hundreds of millions of years ago that likely slipped along the surface and that caused energy to be radiated out into the ground of the Earth,” Savage explained.
This isn’t Southern New England’s first earthquake, though it is the first time in awhile three were felt within a short period of time.
“It’s not very common, but it is common to see earthquakes cluster in location and magnitude every once in awhile,” Savage said.
Savage said there are a number of geologic faults running up and down the East Coast that occasionally get pushed together.
When asked whether these earthquakes should be a reason for concern, Savage said he doesn’t think so.
“I don’t think this is something to be concerned about,” he said. “We have 300 years of people living here in the New England area and we’ve had minimal earthquakes.”
The last earthquake to be felt in Rhode Island was on January 1, 2020. That quake was a Magnitude 1.9 and was felt primarily in Exeter.