Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A minor quake for the Charlotte region

It seems almost silly to talk about the 2.9 earthquake that shook portions of four counties Monday evening southeast of Charlotte, because it pales in comparison with the 9.0 quake that devastated northeast Japan less than two weeks ago.

But Monday's shake is a reminder that the Carolinas certainly are not a stranger to the shifting earth.

Most Carolinas residents are familiar with the story of the 7.3 magnitude earthquake on Sept. 1, 1886, near Charleston. That temblor killed at least 60 people and caused millions of dollars of damage. It was felt 600 miles away and was among the most damaging earthquakes in U.S. history.

There have been other quakes, however, and the N.C. mountains experience minor earthquakes fairly frequently.

Monday's earthquake was reported at 6:02 p.m., and the U.S. Geological Survey pinpointed the center as being 4 miles north-northeast of Chesterfield, S.C. It originated about a half-mile below the earth's surface.

Residents in Chesterfield, Lancaster, Richmond and Anson counties reported feeling the shake, but there were no reports of major damage.

The Charleston earthquake was South Carolina's biggest ever.

In North Carolina, the biggest quake was a 5.2 magnitude shake on Feb. 21, 1916. It was centered near Waynesville, not far from Asheville. According to records at the time, damage was reported in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia. The quake broke windows and knocked chimneys off buildings near the epicenter.

Even the Charlotte area has received a shaking. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there was a quake of about 4.0 magnitude in the early-morning hours of Dec. 13, 1879, centered in southeast Mecklenburg County. That earthquake awakened residents in places like Pineville, Matthews, Waxhaw, Lancaster and southeast Charlotte. No major damage was recorded, however.


nakedempire said...

National radiation Map....


Dan from Dooley said...

There was also a 3.2 earthquake in the Lake Norman area back in 1998. I was in the garage working that night and felt the slab bump, like something big had been dropped. I went outside to see what was happening, as did many of the neighbors. Of course, the first reaction everybody had was, "Did something happen at McGuire?"

You can also see artifacts from some of the past earthquakes in old brick buildings. You will see "earthquake bolts" added to the structure to stabilize it. They're basically threaded iron rods bolted through an exterior iron plate. Check it out sometime when you're out and about.

And yes, there is no comparison. The Richter Scale is a base-10 logarithmic scale. So a 4.0 quake is 10 times stronger than a 3.0 and so forth. So that means the Japan earthquake was about ONE MILLION times stronger than a piddly 2.9.

RickinMooresville said...

There was a 3.9 quake between Davidson and Lake Norman in 1998. We all went outside to see if a plane had crashed, it rattle the house and windows so.

Anonymous said...

it's a sign...almost 2012..states the myan calendar...first Japan..now signs have shown here. Charleston and vicinity might get the next big one. Aren't we due?

LMA said...

Ha ha, Dan, I lived up at Lake Norman at the time and was asleep when the quake hit and woke me. McGuire was my first thought, too!

Anonymous said...

The whole earth is shaking and rumbling. The rocks are crying out.

Anonymous said...

Shoot, if you want to feel a tremor, you should get some of old Jimmy Bob Cooter's shine. Just a little nip of that will knock your socks off. Phew, I saw one batch of that stuff blow the whole roof off of Nubby Slaton's barn. We all felt that tremor.

Anonymous said...

No one but me seems to remember the quake in the Charlotte area in the 1970's, I think 1974. The news people broke into my TV show and made the announcement. Anybody else remember that?