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Residents of High Country Feel Earthquake Early Monday


By Jesse Wood

Dec. 15, 2014. Folks across the High Country felt the magnitude-3.0 earthquake that struck at about 1:45 a.m. late Sunday, early Monday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The epicenter of the earthquake was 9.3 miles north of Lenoir and 15 miles away from Blowing Rock.

Residents responding on the USGS “Did you feel it?” webpage reported feeling the earthquake resided in Banner Elk, Blowing Rock, Boone, Creston, Deep Gap, Fleetwood, Sugar Grove, Todd, West Jefferson and Zionville, among other areas.

The last earthquake that the USGS confirmed in this region was in August, where a 2.4-magnitude quake had an epicenter nearly 2.5 miles from Blowing Rock. That was in nearly the same location as a 2.9-magnitude quake that occurred in August 2013.

ASU Professor Dr. Scott Marshall, a resident geophysicist researching fault modeling and the occurrence of earthquakes, suspected that the August 2014 earthquake was “an aftershock related to the M2.9 event that happened in the same place last August (2013),” according to an ASU Department of Geology website devoted to explaining earthquakes in the High Country.

“Earthquake aftershocks decay rate depends on background seismicity rate. So in simple terms this means that if two equal sized earthquakes were to happen, one in California and one here, the aftershocks in CA would happen much closer in time and decay away faster than the events here. This is because the region is more active and subsurface rocks are weaker (more damaged/faulted) out west, so re-adjustments can happen much quicker,” Marshall wrote earlier this year.

Other recent earthquakes to be felt by residents of the High Country include a 2.5-magnitude earthquake in June 2014 with an epicenter near Blowing Rock; a 2.4 magnitude earthquake in May 2014 with an epicenter near Blowing Rock; and a 4.3-magnitude earthquake, which had an epicenter in Eastern Kentucky.

Did you feel it?