Tennessee's seen a lot of earthquake activity over roughly the past month. Tuesday night one was felt near Shelbyville. 

Beyond Shelbyville, Decatur, Oak Ridge, Vonore, Maryville, Mascot and Blaine have all felt earthquakes over the past month. Only Shelbyville is within 100 miles of Nashville. The others are in the eastern part of the state.

"A good analogy is flipping a coin," said Dr. Mark Abolins of Middle Tennessee State University. "If you flip a penny, it might come up heads three times in a row. Earthquake activity comes. Earthquake activity goes."

Abolins said even though the state's happened to have a lot of activity in a month, east and west Tennessee historically have a lot of earthquakes. 

"It has to do with the geology of those places," he said. "Deep beneath those places, there are a lot of cracks in the ground. Sometimes because of stress in the earth, some of those cracks, those blocks of rock on opposite sides of them will slip a little bit, and you get an earthquake."

This month, almost all of the places mentioned experienced something close to a 3.0 on the earthquake magnitude scale. 

"People will feel them, though there's not much potential for damage or harm," said Abolins.

Abolins said what happened in Decatur is especially important with a 4.4 on that scale.

"It is the highest magnitude earthquake that's happened in east Tennessee since 1973," he said.

Abolins said this month's earthquakes aren't really an indicator of that frequency continuing, but it's always a good idea to have a disaster kit.

"Whatever you need for two or three days for a disaster of any kind, I think that's good advice no matter where you live," he said. 

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Forrest Sanders is an award-winning reporter, videographer and editor at News4.

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