Disaster Preparedness

Geohazard News

Geospatial Data


Interactive Map

Historical Earthquakes in Alabama

AL Seismic Stations

AL Real-time Seismic Data

Additional AL Quake Info

Automated Quake Notification

Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness

New Madrid Seismic Zone



*** *** Report feeling an earthquake (in the last 7 days) ***









Earthquakes are fairly common in the eastern half of the United States. Four zones of frequent earthquake activity affecting Alabama (right) are the New Madrid Seismic Zone, the Southern Appalachian Seismic Zone, the South Carolina Seismic Zone, and the Bahamas Fracture Seismic Zone. 


Most of the earthquakes we experience in Alabama are associated with the Southern Appalachian Seismic Zone (an extension of the East Tennessee Seismic Zone) that runs along the Appalachian Mountains from the northeastern corner into the central part of the state and the Bahamas Fracture Seismic Zone in southern Alabama.


Catalog of earthquakes: click here (Excel file).








Earthquakes are not uncommon in Alabama. The interactive map to below shows epicenters of historical Alabama earthquakes from 1886 to 2015 and surface and basement faults. To read more information on individual earthquakes or faults, click the feature on the map.


For a catalog of Alabama earthquakes: click here. GIS shapefiles and metadata: Geospatial Hazards Data page.



View larger map












Photo of damage to a chimney of a house damaged in the Fort Payne earthquake.


Building damage caused by the Fort Payne 2003 earthquake included broken windows, minor cracks in masonry (below), and chimneys that collapsed or broke at the top (above). Some schools in the area were closed as a precaution although no structural damage was recorded.


Photo of damage to a house damaged in the Fort Payne earthquake.


Fort Payne Earthquake, 2003


Seismogram of the Fort Payne earthquake.


On Tuesday morning, April 29, 2003, a 4.9 magnitude earthquake occurred in DeKalb County, Alabama, 10 miles northeast of Fort Payne. The quake was felt in multiple southeastern states (below). The earthquake was deep enough to suppress significant damage in Fort Payne, the closest city, although the event did damage weaker masonry.


Shaking intensity levels across the region from the Fort Payne earthquake.


Photo of landslide in the Fort Payne earthquake.


The Fort Payne magnitude 4.9 quake caused the development of minor landslides such as the one above, sinkholes like the one below and, muddied the underground water supply for the town of Valley Head, causing the pumps to shut down.


Photo of a sinkhole in the Fort Payne earthquake.




Escambia County Earthquake, 1997


Shaking intensity levels across the region from the Escambia County earthquake.



The second largest quake recorded by seismographs in Alabama occurred on October 24, 1997, in Escambia County (left) and was a 4.9 magnitude event. Effects from the shaking were seen as far away as Lawrence County where a berm around a pond failed, spilling water and fish across a road. Large cracks also developed in sand along a creek (right). Shaking from the quake was felt into Mississippi.


The southwestern part of Alabama has had minimal seismic activity recorded by seismographs. However, the largest historical earthquake known for this area occurred in 1781 in the Pensacola area. The quake is recorded to have caused structural damage (read more below).


Cracks in the ground from the Escambia County earthquake.


Irondale Earthquake, 1916


The largest known earthquake in Alabama happened October 1916 in northern Shelby County (below). Intensity was estimated to be a VII on the Modified Mercalli Scale, indicating a moderate earthquake. Geologists estimate the magnitude was about 5.1.


Shaking intensity levels across the region from the Irondale earthquake.


Pensacola Area Earthquake, 1781


According to USGS earthquake records, a large magnitude (6-7) earthquake occurred in the Pensacola area in May of 1781. Although there were no fatalities recorded in association with the shaking, damage reported included ammunition racks torn from barrack walls and a leveled house in the vicinity.


This earthquake, and the Escambia County earthquake in 1997 were both associated with basement faults that run from the Florida panhandle through southwestern Alabama and into southeastern Mississippi.  These faults are believed to be associated with the Bahamas Fracture Seismic Zone, a crustal zone of weakness associated with the formation of the Gulf of Mexico.


More Historical Alabama Quakes



The USGS also has additional information on earthquakes in Alabama and our neighboring states. Click here to read more.







The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) installed a broadband seismic station in Bibb County in June 2001. The station (photos below) was funded through a grant from the AEMA and arranged by an agreement between AEMA, the USGS, and the Geological Survey of Alabama (GSA) and is part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) coordinated by the USGS. The site for the station is located near the middle of the state in Bibb County in the southernmost exposure of hard Paleozoic rocks.

Seismic station in Bibb County. 


The station is able to monitor even small earthquakes that generally go unnoticed but may be precursors of future larger quakes. Information from the sensors goes to an onsite computer (left), which then relays the information by satellite (far right) to USGS headquarters in Golden, Colorado.

Seismic station in Bibb County. Seismic station in Bibb County.


The station’s sensors are placed 4 feet underground and can sense everything from vehicles passing by to earthquakes on the other side of the earth. The two sensors at the station are buried in large water-tight containers. A small shed houses the accompanying electronics (above middle and right).




Select seismic stations in and around Alabama.





Curious to see what seismic stations in Alabama are recording today? Click on one of the seismic station links below to go to its corresponding helicorder (a compiled record of vibrations recorded by the station).


EUAL, West Greene, AL (CERI) – W Central AL

BRAL, Brewton, AL (USNSN, Broadband) – S AL

LRAL, Lakeview Retreat, AL (USNSN, Broadband) – SW Central AL

FPAL, Ft Payne, AL (CERI, Broadband) – NE AL

FPAL, Ft Payne, AL (CERI, Strong Motion) – NE AL

PWLA, Pickwick Lake, AL (CERI, Shortperiod) – NW AL

PWLA, Pickwick Lake, AL (CERI, Strong Motion) – NW AL

PLAL, Pickwick Lake (SLU, Broadband) – NW AL

Y49ABlount Mountain (N4 E, Broadband) – NE Central AL

X48A, Hartselle, AL (N4 E, Broadband) – Central N AL

Z47B, Carrollton, AL (N4 E, Broadband) – Central W AL

250A, Grady, AL (N4 E, Broadband) – SE AL

HSV, Huntsville (Public Seismic Network, Broadband) – N AL









Earthquake Hazards Map


To produce your own Earthquake Hazards Map such as the one to the right, click here to go to the USGS Custom Hazards Mapping tool.  The colors on the map refer to an estimate of the probability of exceeding a certain level of ground shaking in percent g (gravitational force) in 50 years. This is dependent on magnitudes and locations of likely earthquakes, occurrence frequency, and properties of the rocks and sediments of the area.


For additional information on how these maps are generated, click here to go to the USGS  webpage on “Earthquake Hazards 101.”


For the U.S. National Seismic Hazards Maps 2008 edition and 2010 revisions, click here.


An earthquake hazards map from USGS Custom Hazards Mapping tool.

Seismic Engineering


For seismic design information for engineers, please refer to the USGS webpage “Seismic Design Maps and Tools for Engineers.”



Earthquake Probability Mapping


For earthquake probability mapping of an area of interest in Alabama, click here to refer to the USGS 2009 Earthquake Probability Mapping page. The page requires input of a latitude/longitude of interest (such as for that of a city) and an area map (such as the one to the right) is produced showing estimated earthquake probabilities computed from the source model of the 2008 USGS-National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project (NSHMP) update.


For documentation on the USGS online program that produces the maps such as the one to the right, click here.

Probability map from the USGS Earthquake Probability Mapping page.



Alabama Earthquake Notification

Additional Questions?

If you would like to receive a text message or email when an earthquake occurs in Alabama, click here to sign up through the USGS automated Earthquake Notification System.

If you are looking for additional Alabama-specific earthquake information not found on these pages, please contact Sandy Ebersole, sebersole@gsa.state.al.us, 205-247-3613. For earthquake information specific to other states, please refer to that state’s geological survey or the USGS.










Disaster Preparedness

Geohazard News

Geospatial Data






GSA Home