A 4.0 magnitude earthquake struck Maine about 30 miles outside of Portland, Maine, on Tuesday night, shaking the ground throughout New England and surprising thousands of residents who rarely experience the phenomenon, according to geological and public safety officials.
The quake hit at 7:12 p.m., the US Geological Survey said on its website.
“It was a 10-second event,” said Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety in a phone interview. “And other than residents calling public safety dispatchers to report [feeling a tremor], that was the main aftereffect.”
According to the Geological Survey, tremors were felt as far north as upper New Hampshire and Vermont, and Maine, and as far south as Connecticut. People in Greater Boston were buzzing in the immediate aftermath.
Paul DiNatale, of Newburyport, said in a phone interview that his house shook for 20 seconds, and at first he thought there was a problem with his boiler.
“It was a scary experience,” he said.
Sandee Storey, of Jamaica Plain, lives on the top floor of a triple-decker and said in an email that her free standing stove “sort of jumped up and down and rattled loudly.”
“My cat ... ran away,” she wrote. “It felt like a giant was stamping its feet in a sudden tantrum the way the floor shook.”
Another person said in an email that family reactions differed in two different cities.
“My family felt it in Taunton and the shake was about five seconds,” said the writer, who sent the message from an account belonging to a woman named Joanna. “My family in Weymouth did not. It was the strangest thing. I haven’t felt that one that long in a while.”
Tuesday night’s quake came a little more than a year after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia was felt in the Boston area.
Michael Hagerty, manager of the New England Seismic Network at the Weston Observatory, said that quake was more than 10 times as strong as the earthquake on Tuesday night.
“In terms of [property] damage, we don’t really expect to start seeing significant damage until the magnitude hits about 5” on the Richter scale, Hagerty said.
He said the scale is a logarithmic scale, meaning the amplitude of the shaking increases by a factor of 10 as the reading jumps from four to five, and the energy released increases by a factor of 30.
While many residents shared similar stories in interviews and on social media, tremors from the quake north of Massachusetts Tuesday did not appear to cause any significant problems in the Bay State.
Representatives of the Massachusetts Port Authority, which runs Logan International Airport, and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said travel was not affected on their systems.
Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said his there were no immediate reports of property damage or injuries.
And Governor Deval Patrick, in a statement Tuesday night, echoed those remarks.
“So far, we have no reports of injury or damage in Massachusetts. MEMA will continue to monitor the situation closely. Residents should use caution if they encounter any damage and take a minute to check in on neighbors, family and friends.”
Around Boston, some students described their reactions when the quake hit.
The shaky ground was felt by Marta Williams, 19, and Armando Vacquez, 20, both Emerson students who were on campus when the earthquake rumbled briefly through the city.
Williams said she was in her dorm room when the shaking began.
“I thought there was a person walking on my ceiling, but then I realized that’s impossible because I’m on the 12th floor,” she said. “I went on Facebook and everyone was talking about it. That’s how I found out. … I freaked out a little.”
Vacquez was in a campus library, and said the response from students was muted.
“Everyone looked up, looked at each other, then looked back down,” he said. “It was nothing like in the movies, no books falling or anything.”