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Small Earthquakes Felt in North Carolina Near Tennessee Line

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Small Earthquakes Felt in North Carolina Near Tennessee Line

A series of small earthquakes have been felt in Western North Carolina over the last several weeks, centered just over the Tennessee line.
The tremors ranged from 1.8 to 3.2 in magnitude. They have been centered near Canton.

Tennessee Tech civil engineer and Assistant Professor Dr. Tim Huff said earthquakes in the Upper Cumberland are not uncommon, but most are too small to be felt or cause significant damage.

“I would say the likelihood that we would experience earthquakes is probably pretty high, now whether any of those would be significant enough to cause any damage, that would be hard to put a number on that probability,” Huff said. “Because historically there has not really been damaging events on the plateau here.”

Huff said earthquakes becoming more common where they did not use to occur could be a man-made problem.
“Lately in the past decade or so there’s been some humanly induced earthquakes,” Huff said. “Due to mining and fracking and certain things.”

Huff said there are two main fault lines in Tennessee, the New Madrid fault in the western part of the state, and the East Tennessee fault near the Knoxville area. He said these faults are unique because they are intraplate faults, which are much less common than the faults that produce most of the world’s large earthquakes.

“You hear about tectonic plates, and the big subduction earthquakes that happen in Japan and places like that, and in Chile, those are subduction earthquakes, where with two plates one is diving under the other,” Huff said. “Now the faults around here are not on a plate boundary, so they are somewhat mysterious in that respect.”

Huff said earthquakes are constantly being monitored by and reported on by the United States Geological Survey. He said on their website you can see Earthquakes that happen every day, even if a vast majority are small and can not be felt.


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