Creek anthropologist uncovers disturbing information about Appalachian fire disasters
In the minds of many people, the southern portion of the Appalachian Mountains is one of the most beautiful places on earth to live. The scenery, climate, and wonderful friendly people attract millions of visitors each year and have enabled the continual expansion of permanent population in the Atlanta – Chattanooga corridor.
Yet, the area is not without natural hazards, whose potential should not be underestimated by anyone residing in the region. Given the increasing incidence of extreme phenomena, both natural and human caused (or aggravated), everyone should become hazard literate, no matter where they live. There are many reliable web sites that can be used to identify local environmental hazards, become better educated about such hazards, and make informed decisions in order to better protect oneself, family, and property.
While major hurricane conditions rarely impact the mountains directly (although they can), extreme winds, blizzards, wildfires, and flash floods strike somewhere in the Southern Appalachians on a yearly basis. Seismic activity can also pose serious threats in the region. Although most seismic events in the southern mountains are low magnitude, there is always the potential for stronger earth movement, which can be accompanied by geothermal activity. Activity in the New Madrid Seismic Zone during the 1811 – 1812 earthquakes for example, impacted almost the entire eastern part of the country. Much of the southern highlands is immediately adjacent to the New Madrid zone. In 1811 the region was sparsely populated. Now many millions of people live in communities located on or adjacent to the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Here is a link to a USGS site on the New Madrid zone https://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/nmsz/ and also a link to the USGS Earthquake Hazard Program https://earthquake.usgs.gov/ .
Below are some seismic incidents that have occurred in the northern portion of Georgia and the western part of North Carolina. These incidents go all the way back to 1848 and occur in some of the same areas currently being devastated by wildfires.
Some Seismic Activity in Georgia – North Carolina – Alabama –Tennessee – Virginia
11/13/2016 Pigeon Mtn. GA M2.6
06/07/2016 Summerville GA/AL M2.5 (c. 20 miles w of Pigeon Mtn., near Alabama state line)
02/23/2016 Pigeon Mtn. GA M2.5
02/18/2016 Pigeon Mtn. GA M2.5
02/27/2015 Smoky Mtns. NC M2.1 (near Gatlinburg/Clingman’s Dome area)
11/13/2011 Pigeon Mtn. GA M2.7
11/09/2011 Pigeon Mtn. GA M2.7
2011 Gatlinburg/CD NC M?
2011 Mineral Hill VA M?
04/29/2003 Pigeon Mtn. GA/TN M4.9 + c. 6 aftershocks (c.37 miles SW of Chattanooga)
03/18/1874 Big Bald Mtn. NC M? + possible ‘eruption’
06/20/1857 Pigeon Mtn. GA M? + ‘eruption’ (activity continued through c. 06/29/1857)*
1848 – 1849 Lookout-Sand-Pigeon Mtn. Caldera (Reports of smoke and sulphuric odors)
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