By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
Residents in Madison County and throughout eastern and central Kentucky got a lunchtime scare when an earthquake rattled through the area.
The 4.3-magnitude earthquake happened at 12:08 p.m. Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Service. The epicenter was about 8 miles west of Whitesburg.
Madison County Emergency Management Agency Director Carl Richards said there were no reports of damage or calls for assistance in the county following the temblor. Some people did call 911 wondering what was happening, he added.
Richards noted that people who were inside noticed the shaking more than those who were outside, like himself, when the earthquake struck. Also, people in the southern end of the county reported feeling the earthquake’s affects more.
“I not only felt the whole house shake but also heard a ‘roar’ of some sort ... my dishes were rattling, light fixtures were shaking, and floors and walls were vibrating,” reported Dawn Agee Truett, of Berea, on the Register’s Facebook page shortly after the quake. “... Definitely a very strange feeling!”
“Felt a nice rattle in north Richmond!” Jacqulyn Howell also commented.
Dozens of local residents related stories of their pets acting strangely and their houses being shaken for about 10 to 30 seconds.
Although seismic activity is rare in Kentucky, especially in eastern Kentucky, emergency management agencies have prepared extensively to respond to major earthquakes, Richards said. In 2011, thousands of emergency workers from eight states, including Kentucky, participated in a National Level Exercise that simulated the response to a 7.7-magnitude quake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
“It’s an 8 or above (magnitude) that scares us to death,” Richards said in regards to property damage and potential loss of life.
Richards said Army officials in charge of the chemical weapon stockpile at the Blue Grass Army Depot have several procedures in place to check on damage after an earthquake. However, he doubted that an earthquake of this small magnitude would damage the site where the chemical weapons are stored.
The U.S. Geological Service reports that earthquakes east of the Rocky Mountains do not occur as much as those west of the range, however, eastern U.S. quakes tend to be felt over a broader distance.
“East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as 10 times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast,” The agency’s website, http://earthquake.usgs.gov, states.
Also, while western U.S. earthquakes are usually traced to named faults, most temblors in the eastern portion of the country are not.
“The region is laced with known faults but numerous smaller or deeply buried faults remain undetected. Even most of the known faults are poorly located at earthquake depths,” the agency reports.
The most powerful earthquake reported in modern times in Kentucky, measured at a 5.2 magnitude, occurred July 27, 1980, in Bath County. It caused about $1 million in property damage to buildings in nearby Maysville, the U.S. Geological Service reports.
Sarah Hogsed can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6694.