According to USGS, a weak magnitude 2.0 earthquake struck northern Georgia this morning north and west of Atlanta at 4:11 am. Located just out of Dalton, the earthquake struck from a depth of 15.9 km. There were no widespread reports of shaking, no injuries, and no damage.
According to USGS, people can begin to notice, hear, or feel earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.0 or greater. At magnitudes of 2.5 and greater, most people feel them and minor damage is possible. At magnitudes of 5.5 and greater, damage could become more widespread or severe. With magnitudes greater than 6.1, there could be a lot of damage in very populated areas. A 7.0 or greater earthquake is considered a major earthquake; a major earthquake can create widespread serious damage. An earthquake of 8.0 or greater is considered a great earthquake; an earthquake of this intensity could totally destroy communities near the epicenter.
There have been numerous earthquakes throughout Georgia in recent months, but most have been on the weak side. On May 8, a magnitude 2.5 earthquake struck south and east of Atlanta near Sparta, half way between Atlanta and Augusta, and Athens and Macon. That quake also hit early in the morning at 4:30 am and struck from a depth of 10.9 km.
Some earthquake activity can be much stronger in Georgia. A magnitude 3.9 earthquake event which unfolded on June 19 last year. That earthquake struck in Candler County, about 7 miles east of Stillmore, Georgia. Even though the earthquake was more than 150 miles away, it was felt throughout the city of Atlanta. The quake was significant enough for the Tsunami Warning Center to issue a for it, initially pegging the quake as a 4.5 magnitude event, USGS’s first analysis pegged it at 4.2. USGS says it was felt across a large area because it was so shallow. While earthquakes this strong do strike in the northern portion of the state in and around the mountains, an earthquake of this size is quite rare in southeastern Georgia. The last earthquake within 30 miles of this one with comparable intensity occurred in 2003. That 3.6 magnitude earthquake struck in Cobbtown, Georgia. Before that, there was a 3.7 magnitude event in Hixton which hit in 1976.
According to Georgia’s Emergency Management and Home Security Agency (GEMA), approximately 15 percent of the world’s earthquakes are scattered over areas like Georgia that lack clearly defined active faults. Although earthquakes in Georgia are comparatively rare, scattered earthquakes caused significant damage and are an important consideration for homeowners. Georgia’s northwest counties, South Carolina border counties, and central and west central Georgia counties are most at risk.
GEMA recommends that people in Georgia plan for the risk of damaging earthquakes, especially if they’re in the northern Georgia counties of Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Murray, Pickens, Rabun, Towns, Union, Walker, and Whitfield, the South Carolina border counties of Burke, Chatham, Columbia, Effingham, Elbert, Lincoln, Richmond, and Screven, and central and west-central counties of Twiggs, Bibb, Jones, Baldwin, Hancock, Greene, Putnam, Butts, Jasper, Newton, Morgan, Walton, Harris, and Muscogee.
GEMA writes, “It’s important to be aware of your earthquake risk and to know how to protect yourself.” They encourage people to take a moment now to learn basic steps they should take before, during, and after an earthquake.