4.2-magnitude earthquake near Buffalo, N.Y., felt in southern Ontario

Residents in Hamilton and across southern Ontario reportedly felt an earthquake Monday morning. (Bobby Hristova/CBC - image credit)
Residents in Hamilton and across southern Ontario reportedly felt an earthquake Monday morning. (Bobby Hristova/CBC - image credit)

An earthquake near Buffalo, N.Y., with a preliminary magnitude of 4.2, was "lightly felt" in parts of southern Ontario Monday morning, according to Earthquakes Canada.

"I woke up to it," St. Catharines, Ont. resident Stephen Murdoch told CBC Hamilton.

Murdoch said his house shook around 6:15 a.m. ET.

"I felt what I guess you would consider a small jolt and continuous shaking …. about 15 to 20 seconds," he said.

The federal agency says it doesn't expect any damage would come from the reported earthquake, but said as of roughly 8 a.m., there were more than 200 reports of people in southern Ontario feeling the rumble, including in Hamilton, the Greater Toronto Area and as far as Quinte West, Ont., near Belleville.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. says the earthquake occurred in West Seneca, N.Y. and labelled it a 3.8-magnitude quake some three kilometres beneath the surface.

Musician Rich Jones said he felt the rumble in Hamilton.

"My dog started barking and the bed was shaking for a few seconds. Never felt an earthquake here before. Wild," Jones tweeted.

Earthquakes Canada last recorded an earthquake in Ontario in the Greater Sudbury area on Jan. 22, measuring 2.8 magnitude.

Earthquakes are generally caused by large segments of the earth's crust, called tectonic plates, continuously shifting, according to Earthquakes Canada.

The Southern Great Lakes Seismic Zone has a low to moderate amount of seismicity when compared to the more active seismic zones to the east, along the Ottawa River and in Quebec.

Yihe Huang, an associate professor in geophysics at the University of Michigan, has been studying earthquakes in Lake Erie for the last five years.

She told CBC Hamilton there were at least four earthquakes in the region with a magnitude of 3.0 or greater in the last five years.

"This definitely indicates that we have fault lines around Lake Erie," she said, adding that increased water levels or weight can add stress on the faults and activate them.

"This could contribute to the occurrence of today's earthquake... but we need to look into the data more thoroughly," she said.

For Murdoch, the experience was impressive.

"It's an incredible event to live through … I can't imagine the ones of greater magnitude," Murdoch said.

"I think there's going to be a lot of discussion at water coolers across Buffalo and southern Ontario in terms of what happened this morning."