A 4.4-magnitude earthquake struck on Wednesday morning in rural East Tennessee, rattling homes as far away as Atlanta in the region’s most powerful jolt in more than 45 years.
The earth shook around 4:14 a.m. local time just outside Decatur, Tenn., a city of about 1,600 people near the Great Smoky Mountains, according to the United States Geological Survey. The earthquake was shallow, about five and a half miles below the surface, sending ripples throughout the area and into neighboring states.
It was the strongest earthquake in East Tennessee since a 4.7-magnitude earthquake struck near Maryville, Tenn., in 1973, the National Weather Service said.
A second earthquake in the same area on Wednesday, a 3.3-magnitude jolt, struck about 15 minutes after the first one, the U.S.G.S. said. The earthquakes were not on a known fault, the U.S.G.S. said, but they did occur in one of the most active earthquake zones in the Southeast. That area, known as the Eastern Tennessee Seismic Zone, extends to the northern parts of Alabama and Georgia.
In Atlanta, the largest metro area in the region, people said they woke up to find their houses shaking. There were no reports of injuries or serious damage.
Karen Webb, a dispatcher at the Meigs County Sheriff’s Department in Decatur, said a few residents called to report that small items had shifted in their houses during the earthquake.
This is the location of the M4.4 #earthquake's epicenter early this morning in eastern Tennessee, across the street from Peakland Baptist Church.
Its about 130 miles north of Atlanta and we felt it here! pic.twitter.com/VGPzDrXrHT
— Brad Nitz (@BradNitzWSB) December 12, 2018
“A picture turned over,” Ms. Webb said. “Maybe a lamp.”
In Cobb County, Ga., an Atlanta suburb, the police received at least seven 911 calls from people who mistook the ground shaking for someone trying to break into their home, said Ross Cavitt, a county spokesman.
“Police attributed those calls to the earthquake because they came in at that time and there was no other evidence of an intruder,” Mr. Cavitt said in an email.
The earthquake struck about two miles east of the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, one of the largest nuclear power stations in the United States. But the Tennessee Valley Authority, which operates the plant, said that engineers had not found damage at Watts Bar or other facilities in the area.
via New York Times