Richard H. Fiske, III
The clashing of plates beneath the ground that causes intense vibrations, known as an earthquake, can be deadly for human beings. For hundreds of millions of years, the forces of plate tectonics have shaped the Earth as the huge plates that form the Earth's surface slowly move over, under and past each other. Sometimes the movement is gradual. At other times the plates are locked together, unable to release the accumulating energy. When the accumulated energy grows strong enough, the plates break free. If the earthquake occurs in a populated area, it may cause many deaths and injuries, and extensive property damage.
Luckily, Massachusetts is not located in a portion of the United States that is very suseptible to earthquakes. Since the earliest historical accounts in Massachusetts, only 19 earthquakes have centered in Massachusetts. Although some minor vibrations may be felt as the result of minor earthquakes in or around the Massachusetts area, no major damage from an earthquake has been reported since the late 1700s.
One of the most significant earthquakes to be reported in our area occurred on November 18, 1755 off the coast of Cape Ann. Structural damage to homes and property, as well as small chasms opening in the earth were reported around the Boston area. Vibrations from this earthquake were felt as far west as Lake George, New York, and as far east as a point 200 miles off of Cape Ann.