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Vermont Earthquakes

History of Earthquakes in Vermont

Earthquakes with epicenters within the state of Vermont have been relatively rare occurrences, with only 50 such events scattered across the central and northern part of the state from the first earthquake centered in Vermont on May 14, 1843 through the end of 2016.  The strongest earthquake with an epicenter in Vermont was probably the magnitude 4.0 earthquake on March 31, 1953. Some furniture was moved and objects fell from shelves in Brandon and Rutland.

Map of Earthquakes of the Northeastern US and Southeastern Canada 1975 to 2017

On April 10, 1962, a magnitude 3.9 earthquake occurred in the northcentral part of the state.  In Montpelier, a beam at the Vermont State House was shifted and 20 windowpanes were cracked by the earthquake.  Some minor damage was also reported at Barre.

Earthquakes Outside of Vermont Having Notable State Impacts

Although few damaging earthquakes were centered within the boundaries of the state, Vermont has been strongly shaken by a number of earthquakes with epicenters that were in the surrounding states and Canadian provinces.  A magnitude 5.9 earthquake that had an epicenter near Montreal on September 16, 1732 on the Gregorian calendar strongly shook all of Vermont, although no damage was reported due to the very sparse population in the state at the time.  The same is true of the November 18, 1755 magnitude 6.2 earthquake that was centered east of Cape Ann, Massachusetts.  On December 18, 1867, a frightening earthquake was centered probably in northern New York.  It shook Burlington for about 25 seconds and was felt throughout all of Vermont, although no confirmed damage was reported.  A similar occurrence was on May 27, 1897 due to another earthquake centered in northern New York State, again with no damage but felt throughout Vermont.  Neither of these earthquakes has been assigned a magnitude value by seismologists.  A pair of magnitude 5.6 earthquakes took place in the Ossipee Mountains of New Hampshire on December 20 and December 24, 1940.  Some minor chimney damage was reported at Bloomfield, VT, and at several places in Vermont items were vibrated from shelves and plaster was reported cracked.  On September 5, 1944, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake with an epicenter at Massena, NY was felt across all of Vermont and gave frightening ground shaking to the western part of the state, although no damage was reported.  On June 14, 1973, a magnitude 4.7 earthquake with an epicenter near the place where the New Hampshire, Maine and Quebec borders meet rattled Vermont with some minor plaster and chimney cracks reported from the northeastern part of Vermont.  A magnitude 5.0 earthquake on April 20, 2002 centered at Au Sable Forks, NY just before 7:00 a.m. awakened many residents in northeastern Vermont, although no damage was reported in the state.  On May 17, 2013, a magnitude 4.6 earthquake at Ladysmith, Quebec was felt throughout all of Vermont but caused no damage.

Vermont Information and Links

Prepared in Consultation with Professor John E. Ebel PhD. Boston College, Weston Observatory