According to USGS, a relatively mild earthquake rated as a magnitude 2.4 event struck northern Alabama earlier today. The Sunday afternoon earthquake rattled the area at 12:09 pm near the town of Gurley, Alabama. The earthquake’s epicenter had a depth of 2.9 km. No damage was reported and no one used the USGS “Did You Feel It?” tool to report the earthquake. Today’s earthquake struck nearly in the same location as a stronger 2.7 earthquake on August 13. There was only one other earthquake in Alabama all year; that occurred on August 12 northwest of Hazel Green in the northeast corner of the state.
According to the Geological Survey of Alabama (GSA), earthquakes aren’t completely rare in the state. According to GSA, “Most of the earthquakes we experience in Alabama are associated with the Southern Appalachian Seismic Zone (an extension of the East Tennessee Seismic Zone) that runs along the Appalachian Mountains from the northeastern corner into the central part of the state and the Bahamas Fracture Seismic Zone in southern Alabama.
The strongest earthquake to ever hit the state was a magnitude 5.1 event in 1916 in northern Shelby County.
The second and third strongest earthquakes were each rated as a magnitude 4.9 event. One struck in DeKalb County, 10 miles northeast of Fort Payne, on April 29, 2003. The earthquake was widely felt across the northern half of Alabama and Georgia, much of Tennessee, and even portions of Kentucky, North and South Carolina, and Mississippi. The other struck in Escambia County on October 24, 1997; that earthquake was responsible for a berm around a lake to fail, spilling water and fish across a road. Large cracks also developed in sand along a creek not far from the epicenter. Both 4.9 magnitude events did some damage, mainly to weaker masonry found in the northern part of the state.
Today’s earthquake in Alabama doesn’t appear to be tied to a string of earthquakes that have rattled North Carolina, Tennessee, and South Carolina in recent days. USGS reports that 7 other earthquakes struck the interior southeast over the last week; fortunately, none were very strong and no damage reports were made.