“We didn’t feel it here at the Superette, but I live in Rich Hill and my son called and said his drink slid off the table and the birdcage and the dishes shook,” said Sarah Roten, filling in on Monday for the manager at Creston Superette. “People came in talking about it. They said they heard a loud boom; that it sounded like a freight train. Somebody said they were getting gas in Mountain City and their arms were shaking.”
The earthquake was reported by the U.S. Geological Survey on its website of usgs.gov at 36.490 degrees north by 81.724 degrees west, at a depth of about 6.6 miles. The epicenter was 20 miles north of Boone and 25 miles east-southeast of Bristol, TN, not far from Mountain City, TN about on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.
Reports on the website from people feeling the quake came from Creston, Crumpler, Jefferson, Lansing, Warrensville and West Jefferson in Ashe County as well as Boone and Blowing Rock, Mountain City and Linden in Tennessee, Whitetop and Mouth of Wilson in Virginia, and as far away as Cincinnati, OH and Springfield, IL.
Ashe County folks remember another mild earthquake a few years ago in a similar vicinity.
For more detailed information and maps, go to usgs.gov. The web site is provided by the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program as part of their effort to reduce earthquake hazard in the United States. They are part of the USGS Geologic Discipline and are the USGS component of the congressionally established, multi-agency National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP).
From the web site:
Since at least 1776, people living inland in North and South Carolina, and in adjacent parts of Georgia and Tennessee, have felt small earthquakes and suffered damage from infrequent larger ones. The largest earthquake in the area (magnitude 5.1) occurred in 1916. Moderately damaging earthquakes strike the inland Carolinas every few decades, and smaller earthquakes are felt about once each year or two.
Earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S., although less frequent than in the western U.S., are typically felt over a much broader region. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast. A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt at many places as far as 100 km (60 mi) from where it occurred, and it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake usually can be felt as far as 500 km (300 mi) from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage as far away as 40 km (25 mi).
Earthquakes everywhere occur on faults within bedrock, usually miles deep. Most bedrock beneath the inland Carolinas was assembled as continents collided to form a supercontinent about 500-300 million years ago, raising the Appalachian Mountains. Most of the rest of the bedrock formed when the supercontinent rifted apart about 200 million years ago to form what are now the northeastern U.S., the Atlantic Ocean, and Europe.
At well-studied plate boundaries like the San Andreas fault system in California, often scientists can determine the name of the specific fault that is responsible for an earthquake. In contrast, east of the Rocky Mountains this is rarely the case. The inland Carolinas region is far from the nearest plate boundaries, which are in the center of the Atlantic Ocean and in the Caribbean Sea. The region is laced with known faults but numerous smaller or deeply buried faults remain undetected. Even the known faults are poorly located at earthquake depths. Accordingly, few, if any, earthquakes in the inland Carolinas can be linked to named faults. It is difficult to determine if a known fault is still active and could slip and cause an earthquake. As in most other areas east of the Rockies, the best guide to earthquake hazards in the seismic zone is the earthquakes themselves.