Earthquakes and Shock Waves Rattle Northwest Alabama

Less than a month after shock waves from California’s 6.6 earthquake reached Alabama, the state is experiencing its own, smaller quakes. On Tuesday, September 9, an area seven miles west of Russellville was shook by a 2.1 tremor at 10:59 p.m. Several hours later, a second earthquake struck an area 11 miles west of Russellville just before 4 a.m., which also had a magnitude of 2.1. These two incidents are consistent with the region’s proximity to the New Madrid fault line.

The first signs of geologic activity were seen Sunday, August 24, when primary shock waves from an earthquake in the Napa Valley region arrived in Huntsville at 7:26 a.m., six minutes after the initial tremor. The secondary, shear waves arrived after another 11 minutes, and the larger, slower waves began five minutes later. At its peak, the earthquake reached a vertical ground movement of 75 micrometers after 18 minutes. For shock waves that traveled 1,994 miles from their origin point, that amount of movement is fairly impressive.

Meanwhile, the smaller, local earthquakes were focused in northwest Alabama and only affected the immediate area. Unlike the California earthquake, which took place six miles below the surface, the United States Geologic Survey agency (USGS) has reported that the Alabama earthquakes both had a depth of around 3.4 miles.

Unlike the California earthquake, which resulted in a severe level of destruction and several injuries, there has been no reported damage or injuries in Russellville or Huntsville. However, with the higher than average rate of geologic activity in the state, some people are reportedly concerned about the potential harm that could befall their homes. Fortunately, with an estimated 744,614 people employed by the U.S. property management industry, many renters have been reassured that their units, apartments and homes will be quickly repaired in the event of earthquake-related damage.


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