Multiple late-night earthquakes shake western NC

United States Geological Survey

Two earthquakes shook part of western North Carolina on Sunday and Monday.

The 2.7-magnitude temblor happened at about 11:56 p.m. near Hays, according to the United States Geological Survey.

A 2.0-magnitude quake followed in the same general area at about 12:16 a.m. on Monday.

The first quake happened at a depth of about 1.3 miles, about 90 miles north of Charlotte, according to USGS reports. The second happened at a depth of about 5.71 miles.

No damage was reported, but the USGS said that some people may have felt the first quake as a light shaking and weak shaking spread as far as Winston Salem and Boone.

The earthquakes occurred in the East Tennessee Seismic Zone, according to the Center for Earthquake Research and Information in Memphis, Tenn. That zone stretches from northeastern Alabama to southwestern Virginia and is one of the most active zones in the Eastern United States.

“Since at least 1776, people living inland in North and South Carolina, and in adjacent parts of Georgia and Tennessee, have felt small earthquakes and suffered damage from infrequent larger ones,” according to the USGS. “The largest earthquake in the area (magnitude 5.1) happened in 1916. Moderately damaging earthquakes strike the inland Carolinas every few decades, and smaller earthquakes are felt about once each year or two.”

Earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S., although less frequent than on the West Coast, are often felt over a much larger area, according to the USGS.

“East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as 10 times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the West Coast,” according to USGS. “A magnitude 4.0 eastern U.S. earthquake typically can be felt at many places as far as 60 miles from where it occurred, and it infrequently causes damage near its source. A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake usually can be felt as far as 300 miles from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage as far away as 25 miles.”