East Coast earthquakes: The biggest ones through the years

East Coast earthquakes may be relatively rare compared to the shakers on the West Coast, but experts say that seismic activity can happen in eastern North America and can even be dangerous. 

According to the United States Geological Survey, earthquakes have been recorded in every state east of the Mississippi, and damaging earthquakes have occurred historically in nearly every eastern state.

Within the last 50 years, there have been more than 400 earthquakes of a 3.5 magnitude or greater recorded in eastern North America, according to the USGS.

"An earthquake is an earthquake, no matter [where] it happens," Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist, told FOX 5 NY. "The fact that earthquakes cannot be predicted is a large part of what makes them so frightening. We are much more afraid of something when we don't know when it's coming."


A magnitude 6.6 earthquake on Aug.31, 1886, destroyed or damaged most buildings in the Charleston, SC, area, including these homes on East Bay Street in Charleston. (Credit: Getty Images)

While Tuesday’s earthquakes in Queens, New York and Rockville, Maryland, may not have resulted in destruction, here’s a look at the region’s largest East Coast earthquakes on record. 

Largest East Coast earthquakes on record

April 20, 2022: Au Sable Forks, N.Y., 5.1 magnitude

August 9, 2020: Sparta, N.C., 5.1 magnitude

November 30, 2018: Dover, Del., 4.1 magnitude

October 16, 2012: Hollis Center, Maine, 4.7 magnitude

August 23, 2011: Mineral, Va., 5.8 magnitude

September 25, 1998: Meadville, Penn., 5.2 magnitude 

January 16, 1994: Reading, Penn., 4.6 magnitude

October 7, 1983: Blue Lake Mountain, N.Y., 5.3 magnitude 

September 5, 1944: Massena, N.Y., 5.8 magnitude

September 21, 1916: Waynesville, N.C., 5.2 magnitude

May 31, 1897: Giles County, Va., 5.9 magnitude 

September 1, 1886: Charleston, S.C., 7.3 magnitude (60 fatalities)

August 10, 1884: New York, N.Y., 5.5 magnitude

November 30, 1783, N.J., 5.3 magnitude

November 18, 1755, Cape Ann, Mass., 5.9 magnitude

Earthquake in Queens, NY

On Tuesday, the USGS reported a 1.7-magnitude earthquake near Queens, New York which may have prompted reports of explosions on Roosevelt Island.

RELATED: Can destructive earthquakes hit NYC? Here's what experts say

"About 5:45 or so, all of a sudden I felt my bed moving, and the building moving, and a very loud sound," resident Georgette Sinclair told FOX 5 NY. "I woke up and thought there was an earthquake."

Several tweets across the social media platform "X" reported people saying they were awoken by a loud noise, and that they felt their buildings shaking.

No explosion was confirmed, and the USGS said no injuries or damage was reported from the earthquake.

Earthquake in Rockville, MD

A small earthquake in Rockville, Maryland was reported early Tuesday morning, according to USGS.

The 2.3 magnitude quake was reported at 12:51 a.m. 

RELATED: Earthquake reported in Rockville, Maryland: USGS

The USGS received over 1,000 reports to its ‘Did You Feel it?’ page online from locations in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesperson Pete Piringer said there were no reports of injuries or damage.

Japan earthquake

A series of powerful earthquakes hit western Japan on Monday, leaving at least 55 people dead and damaging thousands of buildings, vehicles and boats. Officials warned Tuesday that more quakes could lie ahead.

RELATED: Earthquakes in Japan leave at least 55 dead, destroy buildings along western coast

Aftershocks from the Japan earthquake continued to shake Ishikawa prefecture and nearby areas a day after the magnitude 7.6 temblor slammed the area.

Damage was so great that it could not immediately be assessed. Japanese media reports said tens of thousands of homes were destroyed.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. FOX 5 NY, FOX 5 DC contributed.