Earthquake shakes Dartmouth

Nov 8, 2020

US Geological Survey data confirms a magnitude 3.6 earthquake occurred in the water off Mishaum Point at around 9:10 a.m. on Sunday morning.

The quake was recorded at a 10 km depth at 41.507°N  70.938°W and was felt as far away as Cape Cod and Connecticut, with reports coming in from as far away as southern New Hampshire as well.

It had previously been reported as a 4.0-magnitude earthquake off of Nonquitt, although the original measurement was downgraded and the location moved slightly following a USGS data review.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that there is no tsunami danger from this earthquake.

Dartmouth Police spokesman Det. Kyle Costa confirmed that police officers and firefighters from Dartmouth’s fire districts are checking for damage in South Dartmouth “just as a precaution.”

“We were inundated — more than inundated — with calls,” he said, adding that no damage has been found in town. “There is nothing eventful to report.”

Some damage was reported in New Bedford, as Mayor Jon Mitchell released a statement noting that a few chimneys crumbled in the city’s South End. A number of families were displaced due to structural damage to their homes, according to multiple news outlets.

Mitchell asked residents to remain on the lookout for the smell of gas.

“To me, it felt like a really big truck hit our foundation,” said Mimi Powell, front of house manager at Farm & Coast Market in Padanaram. “A bunch of people ran outside and looked around to see if there had been a crash or something, but there was nothing going on.”

“Nothing fell off a shelf or anything else,” she added. “Someone I know has an office down the street, she said some pictures fell off the wall...Pretty dramatic!”

“I’ve lived in California for a few years, so I’ve lived through a number of earthquakes,” noted Dartmouth resident Dan Perry. “This was different than anything I’ve ever experienced, because it started with what sounded like an explosion. Usually there’s a rumble. I guess we were so close to the epicenter, that’s what it’s like.”

Padanaram resident Paul Cusson said that at first he didn’t know what had happened. 

“It was kind of scary at first, we thought our furnace blew up,” he said. “And then we went downstairs, checked everything, everything seemed to be okay. A couple minutes later, we went outside, and a whole bunch of neighbors were all thinking kind of the same thing.”

“We’re just glad to know that it was safe,” he added.

A firefighter from Dartmouth’s Fire District 1 noted that the engines were mobilized to check the gas lines and look for structural damage after the quake.

“A lot of people came up to ask what had happened,” he noted, adding that the firefighters were glad to ease residents’ stress.

Although New England is typically not known for seismic activity, the last earthquake in Massachusetts was recorded just four months ago in Osterville at a magnitude of 2.1.

The largest quake in the state’s history was a 1755 earthquake off Cape Ann that registered between a 6 and 6.3 on the Richter scale.