A Rare Florida Earthquake Shakes The Seas Off Of Daytona Beach

An earthquake struck off the coast of Florida – you read that right: Florida – Saturday afternoon, but fortunately it was mild enough and far enough away from land that it didn’t do any damage or cause any injuries.

As The Miami Herald reports, the quake 3.7-magnitude quake struck about 100 miles off the coast of Daytona Beach, out in the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean, at about 4 p.m. Saturday night.

No tsunami warnings were issued.

Believe it or not, this was the second earthquake to strike off the coast of Florida in as many months. In June, a 3.7-magnitude earthquake struck off of St. Augustine (about 51 miles north of Daytona Beach). Similarly, there were no reports of damage or injuries, and no tsunami warnings were issued.

Although there has never been an earthquake with an epicenter in Florida’s land mass (at least, not in the 450 or so years of recorded history in Florida). However, Florida does lie near a fault line. The Sunshine State sits on top of the North American Plate – the same plate that causes earthquakes in California. Florida’s section is just less active, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

On rare occasions, residents of Florida have been known to feel the effects of earthquakes with epicenters either out at sea or elsewhere in the world, according to the United States Geological Survey. The most recent Florida quake that anybody in the state could remember feeling was in 1952. A cop writing a parking ticket in the town of Quincy, north of Tallahassee, reported that the shaking made his job slightly difficult for a few seconds. Similar earthquakes that were felt in Florida occurred in 1948, 1900, 1893, 1886, 1880, and 1879.

The “worst” earthquake to ever be felt in Florida shook the plaster off walls in St. Augustine in 1879. While slight damage was reported, there were no injuries and no major damage.

As you are no doubt aware, undersea earthquakes are one of the biggest culprits in tsunamis. Recent devastating tsunamis off the coast of Japan and in the Indian Ocean, each responsible for thousands of deaths, were triggered by massive undersea earthquakes. So has Florida ever experienced a tsunami?

The answer to that question is, again, “not in recorded Florida history.” According to the Florida Geological Survey, although the Caribbean region – parts of which are less than a hundred miles from the southern tip of Florida – have experienced earthquakes and tsunamis over the centuries, but none are known to have impacted the Sunshine State. And in fact, experts consider Florida quite safe from tsunamis.

“The possibility of a tsunami impacting the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts of Florida is considered to be remote. This is because most tsunamis are associated with major earthquakes. The Atlantic Ocean basin is not ringed by large faults as is the Pacific, which is associated both with earthquakes and tsunamis. It is thought that rare underwater landslides would pose a greater risk in the Atlantic Ocean.”

Further, CBS Miami, in a March 2011 report, noted that the shallow waters surrounding the coast of Florida act as a “breakwater” that would mute a tsunami’s destructive force.

In fact, Florida has been struck by a tsunami, and it was a recent event. However, the tsunami that struck Naples January 16 was, according to this Inquisitr report, a “meteotsunami” – that is, a tsunami stirred up not by earthquakes or other geological events, but by the weather. A strong storm system off of Florida’s Gulf Coast brought in a meteotsunami, bringing widespread coastal flooding to the city.

[Image via pisaphotography/Shutterstock]