December 12, 2009

Earthquakes in Middle Georgia?

The United States Geological Survey reports two small earthquakes in Central Georgia on Saturday.
According to the USGS website, a 3.1 magnitude earthquake shook Central Georgia around 4:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
The earthquake was located beneath Lake Sinclair, 7 miles northeast of Milledgeville and 14 miles southeast of Eatonton.
About 10 minutes later, the USGS reported another quake with a magnitude of 2.2 in Hancock County.
Mercer University Physics Department Chairman Randall Peters was tracking the groundshaking activity.
Peters says he uses a device called a VolksMeter, a digital seismograph capable of recording seismic waves from around the world.
He says the rainy weather may be to blame for Saturday's events.
Peters says lake level changes can trigger smaller earthquakes, and because we've had such a large influx of water into the lake in the last two weeks, that is probably a factor.
He says earthquakes are nearly impossible to predict and pretty rare in Central Georgia, especially of this magnitude.
Viewers told 13WMAZ they felt the ground shake, and heard what sounded like an explosion.
"Everybody kind of rushed around trying to figure out what fell and where the noise was coming from. Then we went outside because we couldn't figure it out. I even saw some fishermen out there and I said, 'did you hear that,'" said Louida Salmon.
One viewer, who lives in northwest Baldwin County, says the foundation cracked at his home.
Deputies at Baldwin, Putnam, and Hancock County Sheriff's Offices say they have not received any damage reports.
Jesse Ethridge, who lives on Lake Sinclair, said: "I called the sheriff's department in Eatonton, which is about ten miles from here, asked them what was going on. They said that they didn't know but they felt it also."

John D'Agnese lives in Jeri Shai Lakeside Park in Putnam County.
He says he was cooking on Saturday afternoon when all of the sudden, his trailer shook and he thought it was some kind of sonic boom.
Living on Lake Sinclair, he says he did not expect an earthquake to rattle his trailer.
His neighbor Bill Roberts says he was just as confused about the loud rumbling outside.
Roberts says he first thought the sound was road construction or some type of blast at the Georgia Power Plant across the lake.
Deputies with Baldwin, Putnam and Hancock Counties say they didn't receive any damage reports from the earthquakes.
Randall Peters says smaller earthquakes can cause damage to dams, but Georgia Power officials say there were no threats to the Lake Sinclair dam.
Peters says his research shows the last recorded earthquake of a similar magnitude nearby was in Haddock, in Jones County, back in 1964.

He says that quake registered at a magnitude of 5.

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