Recent earthquakes shake up conversation - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Recent earthquakes shake up conversation

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"Not at all," is what Brian Wallin of LaFayette, Georgia said when asked if he felt an earthquake there early Thursday.

The 2.5 magnitude tremor occurred around 3:30 a.m. and was centered about six miles northwest of town.

Dr. Johnathan Mies, a geology professor at UT-Chattanooga, says most people wouldn't feel such a weak quake.

"I'm not surprised if very few did or if no one did, frankly," says Mies.

But it still registered at the U.S. Geological Service, or USGS.

More than a dozen small tremors in the past few months have been recorded in what's known as the East Tennessee Seismic Zone, which stretches from most of east Tennessee to northeast Alabama.

Small jumps in the Richter scale make huge differences.

"A magnitude five is 900 times larger than a magnitude three earthquake," explains Mies.

Even though we haven't had "the big one" yet, it wouldn't be impossible according to a recent study from 2014. It places the Chattanooga metro area in only a two percent chance of a destructive quake in the next 50 years--one which would shake the ground at one-third the acceleration of gravity--but if that two percent happens it could be catastrophic.

"That is a damaging earthquake, and some notable, historical earthquakes have had ground accelerations in that neighborhood," says Mies.

 You never know when it might occur.

"We could experience an earthquake while we're filming this," says Mies.

 But it doesn't worry Wallin.

"Maybe if we lived in California?" we asked him.
"Yeah. Somewhere out there, it would be different," responds Wallin.

It's hard to prepare, but we should be aware. Mies says it's just a matter of time.

"It's all a probability thing," states Mies. "Where are you going to be when that earthquake happens?"

The strongest earthquake in recent history to strike the region was a 4.9 in Dekalb County, Alabama in 2003. It caused some structural damage, but was deep as opposed to shallow, so it didn't cause widespread or major destruction.

If a tremor in your area is recorded by the USGS and you feel, please report it to them. It helps with their record keeping. The link is here .

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