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State of Tennessee experiencing increased earthquake activity

Tennessee Earthquake Intensity Map-USGS

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--A 2.8 magnitude earthquake shook Bedford County on Tuesday night, adding to what has been an active 1 1/2 months of seismic activity for Tennessee.

In December alone, 19 earthquakes struck the state, some of them actually considered aftershocks despite still being categorized as earthquakes by the USGS.

As more residents report feeling these earthquakes, some are asking if Tennessee is experiencing an increase in activity?

The short answer is yes. FOX 17 News spoke with Dr. Charles Langston, a director and professor for the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis.

We asked if seismic activity is increasing in the state? "We're worried about the same thing," Dr. Langston stated. Langston says the Southern Appalachian Seismic Zone -which stretches from northeastern Alabama into east Tennessee and part of Virginia- "seems to be more active."

According to data from the USGS, Dr. Langston says activity in east Tennessee has increased over the past 20 years. In total, there were 87 events last year but 54 of them took place in the last 6 months.

Statewide, Dr. Langston says the New Madrid Seismic Zone has also increased more than expected. "It could be we have better tools which are better at measuring activity, but we have to get into the data," Langston says.

On average, there are about 400 events in west Tennessee and 100 events in east Tennessee. Dr. Langston says there does not seem to be unusual increases in intensity of the earthquakes. "It's not unusual when a 4.4 magnitude earthquake takes place that there are aftershocks for some time," Langston says.

Decatur, Tennessee experienced a 4.4 magnitude earthquake on December 12, 2018.

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