While an earthquake rattled parts of the East Coast on Friday morning, could an earthquake now happen here in Minnesota?

Several national news outlets reported that a magnitude of 4.8 earthquake was felt in parts of New Jersey and New York Friday morning. USA Today has the details:

The temblor was reported about 5 miles north of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, at about 10:23 a.m. Friday, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The epicenter was about 45 miles away from New York City, where residents reported shaking furniture and floors.

Luckily, it appears there weren't any injuries reported in either state so far. But it got me thinking about whether or not an earthquake could happen here in Minnesota. And, surprisingly, I found out that not only COULD an earthquake happen here, but several earthquakes HAVE already occurred here in the North Star State.

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The good news for us in the Land of 10,000 Lakes is that the Precambrian bedrock and related geology underlying our fine state don't make us prone to many earthquakes, though we're not totally immune to them. According to the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering:

Weak to moderate earthquakes do occur occasionally in Minnesota, but a severe earthquake is very unlikely. While our state has one of the lowest occurrence levels of earthquakes in the United States, a total of 20 small to moderate earthquakes have been documented since 1860.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) published a map back in 2018 that shows just how likely an earthquake is to occur here in the Bold North. And, except for what appears to be Traverse and Big Stone Counties in the far western part of the state, there's not much threat of a quake at all here in Minnesota.

(U.S. Geological Survey)

But, as we noted above, there *have* been a few earthquakes here in the Gopher State. In fact, the U of M noted that there have been 10 earthquakes recorded in Minnesota within the last 50 years, the most recent being in Brandon, in west-central Minnesota about 145 miles northwest of Minneapolis, on April 29, 2011.

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All of them, though, are of a magnitude of 3.6 or less, which is pretty mild. The USGS says a magnitude 5.3 is a moderate earthquake, while a 6.3 is considered a strong earthquake. Here's the U of M list of the most common Minnesota earthquakes and their magnitudes:

Earthquakes in Minnesota Since 1975 

  • Morris - 7/9/75 - 4.6
  • Milaca - 3/5/79 - 1.0
  • Evergreen - 4/16/79 - 3.1
  • Rush City - 5/14/79 - 0.1
  • Nisswa - 7/26/79 - 1.0
  • Cottage Grove - 4/24/81 - 3.6
  • Walker - 9/27/82 - 2.0
  • Dumont - 6/4/93 - 4.1
  • Granite Falls - 2/9/94 - 3.1
  • Brandon - 4/29/11 - 3.12

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