Is rain to blame for East Tennessee's quakes?

Published: Apr. 9, 2019 at 7:14 PM EDT
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and in recent

, and people are talking about it all over town.

"It felt like a huge vibration, almost like a car had run into my garage," Pattie McCulley said. "It felt like something had hit the house."

Her nerves were on edge, but her house is fine. The quake was


University of Tennessee Tectonics

says they may sound worse than they are.

"Apparently the shallow nature of the earthquakes produces accompanying sound, and you get a boom," Hatcher said.

He says the rise in quakes could be due to recent heavy rains.

"It acts a lubricant," Hatcher said. "It can produce landslides, and it can also lubricate fractures in the ground that have elastic energy stored in them that causes a sudden release of the energy, and produce small earthquakes.

The East Tennessee region is the second most active seismic area in the eastern United States. While quakes are alarming, Hatcher says there's no need to panic.

"It may dry out," Hatcher said. "We may not have another swarm earthquakes for three years or so, as long as we have low quantities of rainfall. If it is related to something else, they will keep happening. It's not necessarily so that we need to be concerned about a larger earthquake coming."

Professor Hatcher says that construction and blasting has no effect on the earthquakes we're seeing in East Tennessee.

To report an earthquake, go

. For earthquake facts, go