Originally created 03/18/03

Early morning disturbance may have been earthquake



Officials are sorting out multiple theories about why some Augusta-area residents were awakened by a disturbance just after 1 this morning.

Tim Long, a geophysicist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said a magnitude 3 earthquake occurred somewhere in the area at 1:05 a.m.

//The epicenter of the minor quake was not determined as of mid-morning today, Mr. Long said.

He said he had heard no reports of damage around the area.

Local sheriff's departments in McDuffie, Columbia and Warren counties reported calls from concerned residents who were disturbed during the early morning hours.

"We get these sort of earthquakes every couple of years," Mr. Long said.

A magnitude 3 earthquake is the smallest earthquake that can be felt by people, usually causing no damage.

The Warren County Sheriff's Office, however, said pipeline testing may have caused the disturbance as well.

Pam Tucker, director of the Columbia County Emergency Management Agency, said she called the National Earthquake Center in Colorado, which reported no seismic activity in the area.

"It could have been the breaking of the sound barrier could have caused the disturbance," Ms. Tucker said.

"A sonic boom will put out a kind of force that will shake houses," she said.

Augusta's last earthquake experience happened in 1886, when a powerful earthquake in Charleston, S.C., caused damage, Ms. Tucker said.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or at jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.