5.1 earthquake occurred near Sparta, NC; several report feeling quake in Southwest & Central Virginia

Local News

UPDATE 5:51 p.m: Residents in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee felt the effects of Sunday morning’s 5.1-magnitude earthquake outside Sparta.

Emily Langhorne, a resident in Farmville, Va., told WFXR’s sister station she felt the earthquake while drinking her morning coffee. At first, Langhorne said she thought someone had just slammed the door but after the shaking continued she realized it was an earthquake and ran out of the house.

When Langhorne came back inside the house, she found her daughter was still in bed. Her daughter had apparently thought she had just moved in the bed and shook it.

“She said, ‘Oh my God, I slept through an earthquake!’ I said ‘Yes you did,’” Langhorne said.

She added there was no damage done to the house, it was just a big shake.

In light of Sunday’s earthquake, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management shared some earthquake safety advice from North Carolina Emergency Management:

  • When the shaking starts, drop down to the floor.
  • Either take cover under a desk, table, or another piece of furniture, or crouch against an inside wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  • Hold on to a desk, table, or another piece of furniture.

UPDATE: 1:43 p.m.: While the 5.1-magnitude earthquake on Sunday, Aug. 9 primarily affected the North Carolina area, there are several reports of the quake reaching southwest and central Virginia.

Alex Helsabeck of Fancy Gap, Va. told WFXR Chief Meteorologist John Carroll Sunday morning’s earthquake felt like it was a convoy of trucks coming by, but then he realized it kept persisting and that something was wrong.

According to Helsabeck, the whole event lasted two minutes, but the peak intensity of the shaking was 10-15 seconds long.

UPDATE 12:26 p.m.: According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the 5.1-magnitude earthquake near Sparta, N.C. on Sunday, Aug. 9, resulted from oblique-reverse faulting in the North American plate’s upper crust.

“Focal mechanism solutions for the event indicate rupture occurred on a moderately dipping fault either striking to the northwest or south. This earthquake occurred in the interior of the North American plate.

Such mid-plate earthquakes are known as intraplate earthquakes and are generally less common than interplate earthquakes that happen near tectonic plate boundaries. This earthquake was preceded by at least four small foreshocks ranging from M 2.1-2.6, beginning about 25 hours prior to the mainshock.”

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

While moderate earthquakes hit the inland Carolinas every few decades — with smaller earthquakes shaking the area approximately once every year or two — officials say large earthquakes are relatively uncommon in the region surrounding the site of Sunday’s 5.1-magnitude earthquake.

In fact, the USGS says Sunday morning’s earthquake was the strongest earthquake in North Carolina since 1916’s 5.2-magnitude earthquake near Skyland.

However, according to the USGS, “The largest recent earthquake to impact the east coast was the M5.8 Mineral Virginia earthquake on August 23rd, 2011, roughly 300 km to the northeast of this August 9th earthquake. The Mineral Virginia earthquake was felt widely across the east coast and caused slight damage.”

According to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, a smaller earthquake was recorded in the same area earlier this week. However, as of 9 a.m. on Sunday, the sheriff’s office says the Franklin County E911 Center has not received any reports of injuries or property damages.

Officials with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office also say they have not received any reports of damage within the county as of 12:15 p.m. on Sunday.

Meanwhile, members of WFXR’s sister station in North Carolina share their experiences from Sunday’s earthquake

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — A 5.1-magnitude earthquake occurred near Sparta, N.C. Sunday morning. Several reports have come in of people feeling the quake in southwest and central Virginia.

The earthquake occurred around 8:07 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9. A magnitude of 5.1 is considered moderate intensity and could cause minor damage to buildings and other structures.

If you felt this quake, you can report it to the USGS on their website.

Latest Stories

Get breaking news, weather, and sports delivered to your smartphone with the WFXR News app available on Apple and Android.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

News tips

Do you have a news tip or breaking news to share with WFXR?  Submit your tip here.

Latest News

More News

News Tip Form