While Ashtabula County was only on the periphery of seismic activity Monday, the area has been the epicenter of at least 15 earthquakes going back to 1989.
The quakes ranged in magnitude from 3 to 5 with the strongest being reported in 2001, according to information on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Geological Survey.
A 4.2 magnitude earthquake hit northeast Ohio Monday, and though the earthquake did not affect Ashtabula County in any way, a map of activity from the United States Geological Survey shows that weak to light intensity was felt on the very western edge of the county.
Though the center of the quake was in Eastlake there was reported intensity in the areas of Harpersfield, Geneva, Saybrook and Orwell townships and Geneva-on-the-Lake, according to the USGS.
At least 200 earthquakes with epicenters in Ohio have been felt since 1776, according to ODNR. Of those, at least 15 earthquakes have caused minor to moderate damage, though no deaths and only a few minor injuries have ever been reported.
Ohio is on the periphery of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, an area in Missouri and adjacent states that was the site of the largest earthquake sequence to occur in historical times in the continental United States.
Four great earthquakes were part of a series at New Madrid in 1811 and 1812, according to ODNR. These events were felt throughout the eastern United States and were of sufficient intensity to topple chimneys in Cincinnati and some estimates suggest these earthquakes were in the range of 8.0 on the Richter scale.
Ashtabula County is among three areas of the state that seem to be prone to seismic activity. Northeastern Ohio has experienced more than 100 earthquakes since 1836, ODNR states, many of them beneath Lake Erie offshore from Lake County, and in association with an injection well in Ashtabula.
Despite the news of an earthquake Monday, Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Fitchet said the agency was not activated in any way. The Perry Nuclear Plant followed the same safety procedures it normally would when seismic activity was detected.
“Geologists say this happens on a fairly regular basis,” Fitchet said.
However, Fitchet, who was previously the Ashtabula Township fire chief for more than 30 years, said it has been since at least the 1980s that he can recall actually feeling an earthquake or tremors.
An earthquake on Jan. 31, 1986, in Lake County, shook Ohio and was felt in 10 other states and southern Canada, according to ODNR. This event had a magnitude of 5.0 and caused minor to moderate damage, including broken windows and cracked plaster, in the epicentral area.
Fitchet said despite being lucky so far, EMA must stay aware of such events, which if strong enough would potentially damage infrastructure or cause lethal damage if they were to damage chemical plants.
“Since I’ve been here for six years, I don’t think we’ve had any reports of damage,” he said.