A shallow 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck Sunday morning about 2.5 miles southeast of Sparta, N.C., close to the state’s border with Virginia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The earthquake’s effects were reportedly experienced throughout parts of North Carolina as well as in neighboring states in the Southeast. Residents of Raleigh, N.C., Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee indicated they felt tremors, too.
The USGS said the earthquake struck Sparta, located in North Carolina’s northwest mountains, at 8:07 a.m. and that “there is a low likelihood of casualties and damage,” indicating that the effects—although widespread—are relatively weak. The USGS reported the depth of the earthquake as about 2.3 miles deep.
The USGS identifies the largest earthquake in North Carolina—also of magnitude 5.1—occurred in 1916. The inland Carolinas deal with “moderately damaging earthquakes… every few decades and “smaller earthquakes are felt about once each year or two,” the agency says.
Aftershocks are likely in the coming week. The USGS says that people should “be ready for more earthquakes than usual” as aftershocks “will continue to occur near the mainshock.” In the days leading up to Aug. 16, the agency estimates that the chance of “an earthquake of magnitude 3 or higher is 57%” with as many as 57 occurring. Stronger earthquakes are significantly less likely, the agency says. It suggests that “the chance of an earthquake of magnitude 5 or higher is 5%” and “the chance of an earthquake of magnitude 7 or higher is 1 in 2,000.”
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division said in a tweet Sunday morning that it had received “multiple calls about a possible earthquake in the state.” It stated that “no earthquake has been confirmed” in South Carolina but that it’s possible these are effects from the earthquake reported in North Carolina.
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