Robert Putro was sleeping at his home in East Brunswick, N.J., about 2 a.m. Wednesday when he felt his house shake. He woke up to what he thought might be “a meteor hitting the atmosphere.”
The culprit: a mild earthquake that sent tremors from its epicenter around East Freehold, a section of Freehold Township, Monmouth County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Freehold Borough is most famous as the hometown of Bruce Springsteen, who now lives not far away in Colts Neck.
The 3.1 magnitude tremor was felt by people and animals. It did not cause significant damage. About 30,000 tremors in that range occur globally every year.
Putro said he has experienced other earthquakes. “This was like no other," he said of Wednesday’s. “It sounded like an explosion nearby, followed by shaking of my house.”
More than 6,000 people responded to the USGS website to say they had felt it, with those nearest the epicenter reporting the strongest effects. The earthquake was felt throughout much of the state, including South Jersey and Philadelphia. Residents of Maryland, New York, and Connecticut also reported feeling seismic activity.
USGS geophysicist Robert Sanders told NBC News that an earthquake in the region is “relatively uncommon.”
There are two recorded quakes with a magnitude of at least 3.0 within a 10-mile radius of the one in Freehold: A 3.1 earthquake in 1992 and a 3.5 earthquake in 1979, NBC reported.
“It will take a few days or weeks before analysts can see if there’s a specific fault line at cause here,” Sanders said. He added that structural damage is unlikely. Damage most likely will be no worse than objects falling off shelves.