Are There Earthquakes in Ohio? See How it Compares to Other States

While the West Coast is frequently mentioned when discussing US earthquakes, there are other possible earthquake zones as well. The Midwest does experience earthquakes, just not as frequently. Continue reading to find out more about Ohio’s seismic risk and how it stacks up against other states.

Are There Earthquakes in Ohio?

Indeed, there are earthquakes in Ohio. Since 1776, the state of Ohio has seen more than 200 earthquakes of a magnitude greater than 2.0, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. At least eighteen of those had a magnitude of 4.0 or higher. Luckily, there were no injuries or damages caused by the majority in Ohio.

How Do Ohio Earthquakes Compare to Other States?

Ohio does experience earthquakes occasionally, but not as frequently as other parts of the country. In actuality, Ohio has an extremely low risk index—0.16—ranking it 33rd out of 51 states, including Washington, D.C.

In contrast, California has the highest earthquake index in the country, at 21.80. Hawaii comes next at 13:37. The scores of North Carolina, Maryland, and Pennsylvania are comparable to Ohio’s.

What Was the Highest Magnitude Earthquake to Hit Ohio?

The tiny village of Anna saw the strongest earthquake to ever hit Ohio in 1937. On the Richter scale, this earthquake had a magnitude of 5.4. Even though Anna sustained the most damage, eight neighbouring states and even southern Canada felt the impact. Thankfully, no one was harmed in the 1937 earthquake. The town sustained some minor structural damage, but nothing too serious. Mostly, graveyard tombstones turned off their bases, books tumbled off library shelves, chimneys were toppled and a school building sustained major damage.

The most recent earthquake with a magnitude greater than 4.0 occurred in 2023 when an earthquake of a magnitude of 4.2 impacted Lake County. This earthquake resulted in minor structural damage, such as chimney hairline fractures. There have been other aftershocks in the region since then.

What Causes Earthquakes in Ohio?

Earthquakes typically occur close to tectonic plate borders. But deep-seated earthly faults are what produce the earthquakes in Ohio. The Great Lake that borders Ohio is Lake Erie, which contains more subterranean fault lines than any other Great Lake. Researchers are trying to learn more about the fault lines that run beneath the Great Lakes. This will enable them to comprehend Ohio’s earthquakes more fully.

New Madrid Seismic Zone

Ohio also shares a boundary with the New Madrid Seismic Zone. One of the Midwest’s most significant seismic zones is also known as the New Madrid Fault Line. The greatest known earthquakes to have occurred in this zone occurred in 1811 and 1812, when three earthquakes with estimated magnitudes ranging from 7 to 8 devastated towns along the Mississippi River.

There have been reports that the Mississippi River went backward for several hours following one of these extremely powerful earthquakes. The shocks originated in Missouri, but they were felt as far away as Ohio, where some minor structural damage happened.

What Regions in Ohio Are the Most at Risk for Earthquakes?

There are three areas in Ohio where earthquakes are most likely to occur, according to the state’s Department of Natural Resources. Among them are:

Shelby County and neighbouring counties in Western Ohio
Northeastern Ohio, which includes Lake County, and the neighbouring counties of Scioto, Meigs, and Perry in Southeast Ohio
Are People in Ohio Need to Get Ready for a Potential Earthquake?

People in the Midwest and Eastern United States are often unprepared for high-magnitude earthquakes because these regions see very few earthquakes. Nonetheless, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources advises individuals to adopt the ensuing safety measures:

Put latches on cabinet doors to secure bookcases and large TVs to the wall.
Fix hot water heaters with straps to the wall.
Check into homeowner’s earthquake insurance.
Stock up on canned products, bottled water, and other necessities.

How Do Earthquakes Affect Wildlife in Ohio?

White-tail deer, coyotes, raccoons, beavers, snapping turtles, river otters, and minks are among the many different species that call Ohio home. Animals are not particularly damaged by little earthquakes, such as the ones that Ohio usually experiences, but they are vulnerable to earthquakes of greater magnitude.

In addition to causing harm to people, earthquakes can ruin or deteriorate environments. It’s possible to harm bird breeding areas and obstruct migratory routes. In addition, animals may become stressed as a result of earthquake damage, which may change their eating and mating patterns.