It is essential to understand that, although North Carolina and the East Coast of the United States experience occasional earthquakes, this region is not a seismically active area like California and the West Coast. California has many active faults that can cause large and destructive earthquakes. FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - Major earthquakes like the one that recently hit Haiti are extremely rare in North Carolina, but researchers at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) state that mild ground tremors are far from uncommon in the Carolinas. There are thousands of fault lines in the eastern United States, with potentially hundreds in North and South Carolina.
One was discovered and named last year after a magnitude 5.1 earthquake in Sparta, North Carolina. The destruction caused by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Haiti will be studied for decades. USGS researchers emphasize the importance of analyzing every earthquake, even the smallest tremors that cannot be felt. Since major earthquakes rarely hit the Carolinas, most of us may never feel the ground shaking in our lifetime, but earthquakes can and do occur beneath our feet.
The western end of North Carolina is where you are most likely to experience small earthquakes. USGS scientists explain that this area is part of the East Tennessee Seismic Zone. This region came to life about a year ago when a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck Sparta, surprising even USGS researchers. After the earthquake, a fault line of approximately 1.8 miles is still being studied and is now known as the Little River Fault.
Research is expected to one day lead to a system for predicting Earth movements before they occur. North Carolina experienced its second earthquake of at least 2.0 magnitude degrees in a week last Wednesday in Catawba County, northwest of Charlotte. It is important to remember that although earthquakes are not common in North Carolina, they can still happen and it is important to be aware of this fact and take necessary precautions.