⭕ Aftershocks are still being felt from the April 5 earthquake

⭕ Cracks developed in the wall of the house in Union County

⭕ The one resident has been forced to evacuate

BERKELEY HEIGHTS — A house was deemed unsafe because of a foundation failure partially because of the April 5 earthquake.

The magnitude 4.8 earthquake centered in Hunterdon County that shook much of the state was followed by nearly 50 aftershocks, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  The most recent were magnitude 1.8 and 1.9 tremors on Friday morning, both in Somerset County.

Berkeley Heights Fire Chief Jim Hopkins said firefighters were sent to the two-story home on Maple Avenue on Saturday afternoon after cracks were reported in the basement wall.

"When we arrived and inspected it we noticed were cracks and displacement in the back wall and we determined that it was an imminent hazard. So we contacted the building department and they came out and inspected it. They considered the home unsafe to be inhabitable," Hopkins said.

One person living at the two-story house on Maple Avenue was forced to leave.

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USGS map shows locations of aftershocks following 4/5 earthquake as of 4/15
USGS map shows locations of aftershocks following 4/5 earthquake as of 4/15 (USGS)

Other factors contributed

Hopkins said that the earthquake was just one factor that contributed to the cracks along but there's no way to tell just how much. The ground was also saturated with water. He said homeowners can help stop saturation by making sure the gutters drain away from the house.

"Keep an eye on things. If you start to see cracks, make sure you call somebody to have it inspected to see if it's going to continue to deteriorate before it gets as bad as it can get," Hopkins said.

The Ramapo Fault System
The Ramapo Fault System (USGS)

Measuring the aftershocks

The USGS has set up eight "aftershock kits" to track the aftershocks in real time to determine their origin, how long they last, and their magnitude.

"The data from the new stations is being used to locate recent aftershocks in near real-time, and so the accuracy of those locations is improved. Eventually, this could lead to an improved understanding of the whole sequence," USGS spokeswoman Alexandra Hays told New Jersey 101.5.

One thing that may not be determined is the fault line where the earthquake happened, according to Hays. while there are no active faults in that area, there are dozens of older, inactive faults that formed millions of years ago.

Ken Miller, a Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences professor at Rutgers-New Brunswick, believes the earthquake originated on the Flemington Fault and not the Ramapo Fault, as had been widely reported.

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