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Tennessee’s Seismic Zones Still Deemed Active

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Tennessee’s Seismic Zones Still Deemed Active

February is Earthquake Awareness Month and Tennessee has two of its own seismic zones.

Tennessee Tech Assistant Professor of Structural Engineering Tim Huff said Tennessee’s seismic zones are active but there’s debate over how large an earthquake could be produced. Huff said a seismic zone is an area that can be influenced by a system of faults.

“You don’t hear much about it here, these large earthquakes happen very infrequently here,” Huff said. “Where as in California the large ones happen much more often. Now, the magnitude of those events could be similar or even higher.”

When Huff said infrequently, the last major earthquake in the Central and Eastern United States seismic zone was a magnitude 6.6 in the 1890’s. He did say an even larger earthquake occurred earlier in the 19th century.

“In 1811-1812, different people have tried to estimate that magnitude just based on accounts of what actually happened physically,” Huff said. “You can hear magnitude ranges from seven up to almost eight.”

However, Huff said if a large earthquake was produced by the Northwest or Eastern Tennessee seismic zones it would be felt in the Upper Cumberland. Although, he said damage would not be excessive.

“One of the larger earthquakes that the seismologists believe could be produced in one of these seismic zones occurred,” Huff said. “I think there’s a really strong probability that we would feel it. Now as far as damage, I don’t think damage would be extensive. Things like maybe un-reinforced masonry could be susceptible to the sort of loadings that we would see if one of these really large events did happen.”

Huff said the general consensus is that experts are not any closer to predicting earthquakes. He said one hypothesis is to track earthquake precursors but said things like foreshock do not always occur before a large earthquake.


The post Tennessee’s Seismic Zones Still Deemed Active appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.