Small Earthquake Reported in East Tennessee

November 3, 2008

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a small earthquake occurred in East Tennessee, but emergency officials say no damage has been reported.

The agency recorded the earthquake was centered near Maryville and occurred at about 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 31, registering a preliminary magnitude of 2.9.

Jeremy Heidt, a spokesman for Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, said authorities learned about the earthquake after the Blount County Emergency Management Agency called to alert them.

Heidt said most people don’t feel earthquakes below 3.0 magnitude and local authorities have reported no damage.

Heidt said there was 2.5 magnitude earthquake reported in New Market on Oct. 25, also in East Tennessee.

The Geological Survey reports that East Tennessee is one of the most active areas in the Southeast, but no major earthquakes have been reported.

In West Tennessee, the New Madrid fault system produced a series of earthquakes in 1811 and 1812 with strengths estimated at more than 7.0 magnitude. Some 200 temblors are recorded on the fault system annually but most are too weak to be felt.

Scientists warn that the New Madrid is still capable of producing big quakes. Chances for a magnitude 6.0 or larger quake, which could cause serious damage depending on where it might occur along the fault system, are put at 25 percent to 40 percent over 50 years.

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