Memphis University Sends Researchers To Study NC Earthquake

Aug 14, 2020

Various items litter the floor of the 4 Brothers Store in Sparta, N.C. after an earthquake shook much of North Carolina early Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020.
Credit Michael Hull / via AP

Specialists from the University of Memphis are traveling to North Carolina to monitor aftershocks of last weekend’s 5.1 magnitude earthquake, the school said.

The most powerful earthquake to hit North Carolina in more than 100 years struck Sunday morning. There were no reports of serious injuries, but some minor structural damage was reported in Sparta, as well as cracks in roads. Alleghany County Emergency Management Coordinator Daniel Roten said earlier this week that at least 100 homes were damaged.

The University of Memphis’ Center for Earthquake Research and Information, with help from North Carolina and U.S. geological survey officials, has deployed four portable seismograph stations in a tightly controlled pattern to record aftershocks of the earthquake, the university said Thursday.

At least 12 aftershocks have been recorded near Sparta. A magnitude 2.9 aftershock rattled Sparta on Tuesday while Gov. Roy Cooper was touring the town. Cooper toured the town to survey the damage and met with homeowners and local and county officials.

Also, eight small foreshocks have been identified, the university said.

“Precisely located aftershocks for the Sparta earthquake may allow geologists to discover surface ruptures and other near-surface damage,” said Chuck Langston, director of the Memphis earthquake center, in a statement.

WUNC’s Celeste Gracia and Jay Price contributed to this report.