Local News

Researchers Say Inactive Fault Located In Wake County

Posted April 29, 2003

— The western part of North Carolina is occasionally home to small quakes and tremors from other states, but researchers said there is a fault that cuts right through Wake County.

Geologists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study earthquakes all over the world, but local researchers spend most of their time outside of North Carolina because there is so little activity.

Researchers said the Alabama earthquake Tuesday morning was a rare occurence for the Southeast.

"There's not a lot of earthquakes around here. There's not a history of seismic activity here. It's unusual," said UNC professor Jonathan Lees.

There are active faults in Charleston, South Carolina and Missouri which can cause small tremors here. Most of the faults in North Carolina are inactive like the one that runs beneath the Angus Barn restaurant, near Umstead Park and the airport.

Researchers said the Alabama quake is proof that no one is immune to the natural hazard.

"I would not be alarmist about this event, but on the other hand, people should be aware that earthquakes can happen," Lees said.

Researchers said the Alabama quake was not big enough to do serious damage. They said a major earthquake would devastate the Southeast because most structures in the region are not built to withstand that kind of an event.

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