Five earthquake swarms occurred from 2007 to 2011 near Berne, New York. Each swarm consisted of four to twenty-four earthquakes ranging from M 1.0 to M 3.1. The network determinations of the focal depths ranged from 6 km to 24 km, 77% of which were ≥14 km. High-precision, relative location analysis showed that the events in the 2009 and 2011 swarms delineate NNE-SSW orientations, collinear with NNE trends established by the distribution of the spatially distinct swarms; the events in the 2010 swarm aligned WNW-ESE. Focal mechanisms determined from the largest event in the swarms include one nodal plane that strikes NNE, collinear with the distribution of the swarms and relative events within the swarms.

Two, possibly related explanations exist for the Berne earthquake swarms. (1) The swarms were caused by reactivations of proposed blind NE- and NW-striking rift structures associated with the NE-trending Scranton gravity high. These rift structures, of uncertain age (Proterozoic or Neoproterozoic/Iapetan opening), have been modeled at depths appropriate for the seismicity. (2) The NNE-trending swarms were caused by reactivations of NNE-striking faults mapped at the surface north-northeast of the earthquake swarms. Both models involve reactivation of rift-related faults, and the development of the NNE-striking surficial faults in the second model probably was guided by the blind rift faults in the first model. The Berne swarms may be evidence that these faults are seismically capable and, if so, could sustain a maximum event on the order of Mw 5.7–6.6, based on fault segment length.

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