Abstract

During the summer of 1993, the residents in the Norris Lake community, Lithonia, Georgia, were bothered by an incessant swarm of earthquakes. The largest, a magnitude 2.7 on September 23, showed a normal aftershock decay and occurred after the main swarm. Over 10,000 earthquakes have been detected, of which perhaps 500 were felt. The earthquakes began June 8, 1993, with a 5-day swarm. The residents, accustomed to quarry explosions, suspected the quarries of irregular activities. To locate the source of the events, a visual recorder and a digital event recorder were placed in the epicentral area. Ten to 20 events were detected per day for the next three weeks. The swarm then escalated to a peak of over 100 per day by August 15, 1993. Activity following the peak died down to about 10 events per day. The magnitude 2.7 event of September 23 was followed by a normal aftershock sequence. The larger events were felt with intensity V within 2 km of their epicenter, and noticed (intensity II) to a distance of 15 km. Some incidents of cracked wallboard and foundations have been reported, but no significant damage has been documented. Preliminary locations, based on data from digital event recorders, suggest an average depth of 1.0 km. The hypocenters are in the Lithonia gneiss, a massive migmatite resistant to weathering and used locally as a building stone. The epicenters are 1 to 2 km south-southwest of the Norris Lake Community. The cause of the seismicity is not yet known. The earthquakes are characteristic of reservoir-induced earthquakes; however, Norris Lake is a small (96 acres), 2 to 5m deep recreational lake which has existed since the 1950s.

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