Tennessee Town Rocked by 16 Earthquakes in 3 Days

December 3, 2019 Updated: December 3, 2019

A series of 16 back-to-back earthquakes with a magnitude of up to 2.1 rocked a small town in Tennessee in the space of just three days, data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) shows.

The earthquakes, which ranged from 1.1 to 2.1 magnitude were felt in the town of Ridgely in Lake County, which has an estimated population of 1,647, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and is located 4 miles from the Mississippi River banks.

All of the earthquakes bar one occurred around two miles from the town on Nov. 28 and Nov. 29, with an aftershock taking place on Sunday, reported Fox 17.

The first of many earthquakes, with a 2.1 magnitude, took place about 1.3 miles southwest of Ridgely at around 1 a.m. on Friday, continuing hourly until just before 5 a.m, according to the USGS.

Several hours later, at around 7:30 a.m., another earthquake with a magnitude of 1.1 rattled the region, continuing into Saturday until 2:11 p.m.

The two earthquakes with a 2.1 magnitude took place on Friday at 2:06 a.m. and 3:10 a.m., according to the USGS.

The small town happens to be located in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which is “the most active seismic area in the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains,” according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

According to the state agency, most earthquakes which occur in the region are so small they cannot be detected by humans, however hundreds are reported annually in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

West Tennessee Quake

In April, West Tennessee recorded a 3.6 magnitude tremor at about 6 a.m. local time, waking many from their sleep.

Residents living in Tipton, Lauderdale, and Dyers counties phoned WREG to report that they felt the quake on April 24. Each shared a similar story, saying they heard a noise that sounded like a “freight train” before the ground started shaking.

Newbern Resident Kelly Sebastian told WREG she and her husband heard a roaring sound before everything started shaking. She said she had felt earthquakes before but nothing of this magnitude.

Others described the sound as thunder.

“My house, it was just real loud like thunder and lightning,” a H&S Market customer told WREG on South Main in Dyersburg.

Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box said there were no reports of damage at the time of publication even though the quake was “pretty strong.”

The National Weather Service (NWS) Memphis, Tennessee, Office confirmed the tremor could be felt across a large geographic area.

“It appears that the 3.6 magnitude earthquake was big enough to be felt as far east as Jackson, Tennessee, and parts of Kentucky,” NWS Memphis said in a Twitter post dated April 24. “If you felt it, you can report it to United States Geological Survey (USGS) via this link.”

NWS Memphis released a graph showing the readings of the earthquake from one of their seismometers.

“We are lucky enough to have a seismometer in our backyard here at our office,” NWS Memphis said in a Twitter post dated April 24. “This is the graph from the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis helicorder. None of us felt it here but you can clearly see the earthquake in green at 5:56 a.m. CDT this morning.”

One witness to the quake said it could be felt across great distances.

“I saw [the] USGS report maps for this event. It was felt in a widespread area as far west as Arkansas, south into Mississippi and east past Nashville,” Billie Jo Gentry said in a Twitter comment. “Soil here is such that earthquakes can be felt quite a distance even if they aren’t big enough to do a lot of damage.”

Another person believes some reported earthquakes in Tennessee are larger than life.

“Every time there is an earthquake in northwest Tennessee some here tell very tall tales,” Gregory Watts said in a Twitter comment. “‘Yes Sir, it knocked all my stuff off the shelf and near tossed my wife out of bed. The whole house shook like the hand of …’ It goes on.”

Richard Szabo contributed to this report.