Earthquake hits near Blowing Rock
by Anna Oakes
A magnitude 2.9 earthquake struck two miles north-northeast of Blowing Rock and three miles south of Boone around 3:50 p.m. Sunday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The USGS said the quake originated at a depth of 5.7 miles, according to the agency's Earthquake Hazards Program website.
Area residents in Boone, Vilas, Bethel, Meat Camp and Blowing Rock reported a sudden, abrupt shaking, as if a vehicle had collided with their buildings, according to comments on the Watauga Democrat Facebook page. Others reported hearing a loud boom, followed by the shaking.
According to USGS, earthquakes occur on faults within bedrock, usually miles below the earth's surface. Most bedrock beneath the inland Carolinas assembled as continents collided to form a supercontinent about 500 to 300 million years ago, raising the Appalachian Mountains, it said.
In North and South Carolina and bordering areas of Georgia and Tennessee, smaller earthquakes are felt about once each year or two, while moderately damaging earthquakes hit the area every few decades. The largest earthquake in the area on record was a magnitude 5.1 in 1916, the USGS said.