Earthquake Stronger Than Saturday’s Possible in Kentucky

Saturday’s earthquake in southeast Kentucky may have some residents worried about the potential for a stronger quake. 

While considered  light, Saturday’s 4.3 earthquake  centered near Whitesburg, could be felt in Lexington and Cincinnati.  Compare that to the 6.0 quake that hit Virginia last year, damaging structures in Washington D-C.  

Such a strong quake here cannot be ruled out, Kentucky Geological Survey Geologic Hazards Director Zehnming Wang said.

While more earthquakes in southeast Kentucky will certainly occur someday, state Geologist Jim Cobb says predicting their exact time and place is impossible.  Neither Cobb nor his colleagues at the Kentucky Geological Survey were surprised by Saturday’s four-point-three quake.  It’s part of a seismic zone in northeastern Tennessee where earthquakes, ranging from “light” to “strong” can occur.   During stronger quakes, Cobb said, some older school buildings could be at risk.

“They can be one, two, or even three story buildings.  And some of these schools, elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools can be old.  Those are the kinds of structures that we worry about,” Cobb said.

Eastern Kentucky felt a bigger quake in 1980, measuring over five points. It was centered under Bath County.

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