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What causes earthquakes near Lake Lanier?

What causes earthquakes near Lake Lanier?
What causes earthquakes near Lake Lanier?


A multi-university collaboration will place sensors near the epicenters of the three quakes to get closer data from any future quakes.

Buford, Georgia. —

What is usually a quiet and peaceful place on an early summer night was shaken by tremors from the ground. A series of three earthquakes occurred over the past week near Lake Lanier, with many residents feeling the tremors.

The first earthquake occurred last Thursday at around 11:15 p.m., and had a magnitude of 2.5, at a depth of only 2.5 miles below the surface of the earth.

A little more than two hours later – the first aftershock. Magnitude 2.1 at a depth of 5 miles at 1:30 a.m. last Friday.

Then, at the end of the weekend – another aftershock. A 2.3 magnitude earthquake occurred 1.4 miles below the surface around 8:37 p.m. Sunday.

Dr. Andrew Newman is a geophysicist and professor at Georgia Tech. He said they picked up the earthquakes with seismometers here in Atlanta — and several hundred miles north in the Appalachian Mountains.

As he showed us a wide range of seismograms, showing the series of primary and secondary waves sent by earthquakes through the Earth's crust, he explained that there were four main factors that may have contributed to these earthquakes being felt by so many people.

Four main factors

Proximity and depth are major contributors to why earthquakes are felt by so many people, Newman said.

“The first thing is proximity. If you're close to it, you can feel it. The other thing is depth. They were all very shallow,” he said.

Most earthquakes occur at a depth of more than 10 kilometers underground. Seismic waves gradually weaken as they pass through the Earth's outer layer. But when you have a very shallow earthquake, seismic waves reach the surface faster and with greater energy.

The third factor has to do with our rocks on the East Coast. We feel earthquakes differently here than we do on the West Coast. In the West, earthquakes are more common.

“On the West Coast, we have a lot of earthquakes. So when we have a lot of earthquakes, we have a lot of divided ground. Where the ground is more divided, the interior of the Earth is the seismic zone. The wave passes through… some This energy is lost mainly due to the rocks sliding in front of themselves.” “This causes little thermal energy to be found within the Earth. But the seismic signal itself gets smaller and smaller much more quickly as you move away. “In the eastern United States, it's much stronger rock, much more crystalline, and not as many faults as noticeable or weak, so these signal signals will travel quite freely.”

“Here in the east, seismic waves travel more efficiently. They go farther, and they're larger. So you have a larger area where they can potentially shake and feel it.”

The fourth factor: time of day.

“These disasters happen in the evening and during the night. Most people aren't outside, in their cars, busy. They're still at home. So they tend to notice the difference when earthquakes happen more than during the day.”

What then?

Dr. Newman said that last Thursday evening's tremor was likely the main shock, and the next two tremors were likely to be aftershocks. A larger earthquake is unlikely, although not impossible either.

What causes earthquakes?

Scientists are not entirely sure what causes earthquakes. They have hypotheses or educated guesses, but they really need more data to draw some conclusions.

These earthquakes occur near the Brevard fault line, which runs all the way to Virginia, but not on it. But this fault is not active, and has not been for more than 100 million years. So Newman doesn't think it's related to that.

Sometimes, changes in water levels in tanks can add tension and stress until the right moment.

“It could be that something that happened recently was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Water levels at Lake Lanier and near Buford Dam have not seen any significant change in recent weeks or months.

Dr. Newman also noted that sometimes, global warming may also lead to increased stress and stress.

In general, earthquakes are just sudden releases of energy after stress builds up in the Earth's crust.

Multi-university research project

Scientists from Georgia State University, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia will collaborate to uncover more information about the series of earthquakes. They will install a set of seismic nodes that will be buried in the ground, and several surface seismometers. These locations will be very close to the epicenters of the three previous earthquakes.

There's no guarantee there will be any additional aftershocks, but if they do, they will be able to collect data.

“Then they can start mapping the individual faults where these earthquakes occur,” Newman explained.




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