Magnitude 5.1 Earthquake Reported Near Sparta

Magnitude 5.1 Earthquake Reported Near Sparta

11:17am Aug 09, 2020
The USGS Community Internet Intensity map charts where the earthquake was felt. Image courtesy:

Many in North Carolina woke up to an earthquake Sunday morning.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) registered a magnitude 5.1 earthquake at 8:07 a.m. 4 kilometers southeast of Sparta, according to its latest report. Another smaller 2.6 magnitude earthquake occurred early Sunday morning in the same location around 1:57 a.m.

North Carolinians across the state reported feeling the earthquake, and for those that did, the USGS asks that they report it hereThere were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The USGS said the population in the affected region resides in structures “that are resistant to earthquake shaking, though vulnerable structures exist.”

USGS reports that a 5.1 magnitude earthquake last occurred in 1916 and was the largest in the area. Smaller quakes are felt once every year or two in the Carolinas, with moderately damaging ones happening every few decades.

Michael Hull was standing in his driveway at his home in Sparta when he noticed a group of deer running.

“Not even a minute passed and the side-to-side motion started,” Hull said. “It takes you a minute to realize what’s happening, and you just can’t believe it. Then it was over. It was loud, like God was shaking a mountain at you, literally.”

Karen Backer was in her Greensboro apartment when she heard initially mistook banging in her kitchen for her roommate.

“Nope, it was the cabinet doors 'clinking' open and closed! My neighbors on the other hand said they felt our apartment building shaking,” Backer said. “Well, sadly, nothing surprises me in 2020, but a hurricane and an earthquake in the same week is crazy.”

Large earthquakes are rare in North Carolina. They occur in faults within bedrock, usually miles deep. Few are linked to any specific fault lines. The state is far away from the closest plate boundaries, whereas in areas like California's San Andreas fault system, for example, scientists can determine specific fault lines that cause quakes. Because faults here are smaller and buried, they often are undetected and it's not easy to know whether one is active or "slips" and causes an earthquake. 

The quake was felt in nearby states including Virginia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

This is a developing story and it will be updated as information is available. 

Copyright 2020 WFDD. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.
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