An earthquake that measured 4.3 on the Richter Scale struck west of Whitesburg, Ky., at 12:08 p.m. Saturday, shaking homes from Cincinnati to Atlanta, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The epicenter was in southeastern Kentucky about 96 miles north-northeast of Knoxville, USGS Geophysicist Paul Caruso said. He wasn’t sure how long it lasted.
Caruso said a 4.3-magnitude earthquake could cause chandeliers to swing and books to fall off shelves near the epicenter, but he wouldn’t expect any major casualties or major damage. They generally occur in quakes with a magnitude of 5.5 or greater, Caruso said.
Caruso said the earthquake was at a shallow depth of about one mile underground.
People in and around Oak Ridge and Knoxville immediately began posting about the quake on social media early Saturday afternoon, but it’s not clear if it caused any damage in East Tennessee.
About an hour after the earthquake, Lt. Ken Sexton of the Whitesburg Fire Department said the department had had no reports of damages or injuries so far. But buildings shook, and people were scared, Sexton said.
The quake was about eight miles west of Whitesburg, which is northwest of Johnson City. It’s mountainous coal mining country, Sexton said.
Caruso said it’s not possible to predict if and when there might be aftershocks, but they are always smaller than the earthquakes themselves. The USGS reported one 2.5-magnitude aftershock at 1:37 p.m. about 10 miles southeast of Hazard, Ky.
The USGS says earthquakes do not occur frequently in most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains, but they are typically felt over a much larger region than they are in the West.
For more information and a map of the epicenter, see the U.S. Geological Survey’s earthquake page at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/usc000dqhx#summary.
Note: This story was last updated at 7:48 p.m.