(WBTV) - Earthquake experts are predicting aftershocks following a 5.1 magnitude earthquake near Sparta, North Carolina Sunday morning.
It is one of the largest earthquakes ever reported in the state.
The quake was reported around 8:07 a.m., 2.6. miles away from Sparta. According to the United States Geological Survey, the epicenter was 36.8 miles from Boone and 46.1 miles from Lenoir.
Sparta is in Alleghany County, just east of Ashe County. There have been seven earthquakes around Sparta in the last two days.
According to the United States Geological Survey’s aftershock forecast, aftershocks will continue to occur near the earthquake area.
“The USGS advises everyone to be aware of the possibility of aftershocks, especially when in or around vulnerable structures such as unreinforced masonry buildings,” the website reads.
According to the USGS forecast, over the next week there is a 5 percent chance of one or more aftershocks that are larger than magnitude 5.1. If any aftershocks of this magnitude were to happen, it is most likely that as few as zero or as many as two such earthquakes may occur.
It is more likely that there will be smaller earthquakes over the next week.
The chance of an earthquake of magnitude 3 or higher is 57 percent, and it is most likely that as few as zero or as many as 57 such earthquakes may occur in the case that the sequence is re-invigorated by a larger aftershock.
Magnitude 3 and above earthquakes are large enough to be felt near the epicenter. The number of aftershocks will drop off over time, but a large aftershock can increase the numbers again, temporarily.
When there are more earthquakes, the chance of a large earthquake is greater which means that the chance of damage is greater.
According to USGS, this earthquake could be part of a sequence.
“An earthquake sequence may have larger and potentially damaging earthquakes in the future, so remember to: Drop, Cover, and Hold on,” the website reads.
The chance of an earthquake of magnitude 6 or higher is one in 200, such an earthquake is possible but with a low probability. The chance of an earthquake of magnitude 7 or higher is one in 2,000, such an earthquake is possible but with a low probability.
USGS officials say their earthquake forecasts give them an understanding of the chances of having more earthquakes within a given time period in the affected area. They calculate this earthquake forecast using a statistical analysis based on past earthquakes.
The forecast changes as time passes due to decline in the frequency of aftershocks, larger aftershocks that may trigger further earthquakes, and changes in forecast modeling based on the data collected for this earthquake sequence.