Local News

Experts Not Worried After Va. Earthquake's Effects Rock Parts Of N.C.

Posted December 10, 2003 4:16 a.m. EST

— Tuesday's earthquake sounded alarms in Virginia and sent shockwaves south. Just like Richmond, the Triangle has hundreds of fault lines where earthquakes occur. The big difference is the fault lines in the Triangle are no longer active.



to view a preliminary report of Tuesday's earthquake by the U.S. Geological Survey.

"We have a lot in our area because we are in an area that was coming apart 200 million years ago," said Kevin Stewart, associate professor of geological sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Earthquakes happen all the time elsewhere, but tremblors are not even common in the area, which is why phones rang off the hook Tuesday at the state's Emergency Operations Center.

Dr. Kenneth Taylor, state director of Emergency Management, who is also a former state earthquake planner, said he would be surprised if an earthquake ever originated in the Triangle, but he adds the area is not immune to damage. There are five earthquake zones that border the Triangle, including Charleston, S.C., which had a 7.3 magnitude in 1886.

"Those zones around us are big enough and close enough to cause damage in Raleigh," he said.

Experts said you should always have a family disaster plan and supplies ready for an emergency, whether it be an earthquake, hurricane or ice storm.

Tuesday's tremblor may have been a big deal in the Triangle, but there were others elsewhere. The U.S. Geological Survey says there have been eight quakes greater than 3.5 magnitude since Tuesday afternoon. Only two of them were in the United States -- both in Alaska. There were also several smaller quakes in the past 24 hours, all in the western part of the country.

The closest epicenter to the Triangle was in the mountains of McDowell County, back in 1957. The largest North Carolina earthquake rocked Asheville more than 85 years ago.