Earthquakes rattle Canton area
An earthquake that shook the Canton area during the early morning hours of Sunday, June 4, was the largest in a series of quakes centered around the same area along Crabtree Mountain Road about 3 miles north of downtown Canton.
The 3.2 magnitude quake occurred at 6:09 a.m. June 4, with 638 people reporting to the U.S. Geological Survey that they’d felt it. Reports were filed from locations ranging from Rock Hill, South Carolina, north nearly to Johnson City, and from Chattanooga east to Winston-Salem. None of the reports stated that damage had occurred as a result of the quake, instead reporting only weak or light shaking.
It is one of only four earthquakes over magnitude 3 to occur in Western North Carolina since 2000, the others occurring in 2005 near Hot Springs, 2006 near Maggie Valley and 2009 near the Tennessee line west of Murphy.
The earthquake was one of seven to rattle the Canton area over the past two weeks. Prior to the 3.2 magnitude quake, at 12:08 a.m. June 4, a 2.5 magnitude quake was recorded. Afterward, at 4:35 p.m., came a 2.2 magnitude quake.
At 7:28 p.m. Tuesday, May 23, the USGS recorded a 2.8 magnitude quake, followed by a pair of slightly weaker earthquakes Thursday, May 25. A 2.2 magnitude earthquake occurred at 6:16 p.m., and a 2.4 magnitude earthquake happened at 6:27 p.m.
The very next day, a fourth earthquake occurred in the same area. This much lighter quake registered a magnitude of 1.8.
The earthquakes came surrounding a momentous day for the town of Canton, with Wednesday, May 24, bringing the last blow of the whistle on the town’s 115-year-old paper mill as it ceases production for good.
In a post on Twitter, Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers he said he plans to ask the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and the N.C. Geological Survey for an analysis of this outburst of seismic activity. He also questioned whether the cluster of quakes could be related to the mill’s closure.
“I obviously want that question answered, but we will see where the science takes us,” he wrote.
Haywood County Emergency Services offered an indirect reply to this concern, also on Twitter.
“Geologists have found no reason to suspect human activity could be the cause of these quakes,” the post reads. “They are simply a natural event that happens from time to time.”
For more information about earthquakes in the United States, visit earthquake.usgs.gov.