The brief tremblor that gently shook Massachusetts yesterday wasn’t a disaster. No damage was reported, and some people mistook it for passing trucks or nearby construction. Still, millions of minds were jostled. Suddenly, the mass suffering in Japan and New Zealand last winter didn’t seem so remote; the news that the epicenter of yesterday’s quake was near a nuclear power plant in Virginia sent a frisson of fear up some people’s spines.
Compared to many places, New England isn’t especially prone to earthquakes. The most severe of them tend to occur near tectonic boundaries, and Boston is more than 1,000 miles into the North American plate. But as yesterday’s brief shake amply demonstrated, there is no absolute immunity. There could be more seismic activity in the future. And in a region with more than its share of old brick structures built on fill, there’s ample reason to know the risks and prepare for them.