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Rare 3.9-magnitude earthquake hits parts of Georgia

It is the strongest quake to hit the state in years.

A 3.9-magnitude earthquake hit Georgia early Saturday morning, the state’s strongest in years.

The U.S. Geological Survey registered the quake shortly after 4 a.m. in the city of Stillmore, but was felt throughout the state's southeastern region due to the epicenter's shallow location.

At least 1,294 Georgians reported feeling moderate and light shaking Saturday morning in parts of Atlanta, Augusta, Macon, Athens and even in the coastal city of Savannah, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's community intensity map.

Earthquakes of this magnitude often cause "very light" damage, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. So far, no significant damage or injuries have been reported following Saturday's quake.

Temblors of this magnitude tend to occur in the state about every 3 to 5 years, particularly in the northwestern region, making the location of the most recent quake highly unusual, according to Georgia Tech Professor and Geophysicist Dr. Andrew Newman.

Earthquakes in Georgia’s Coastal Plain "are few and far between, and could potentially be destructive," Newman told WXIA, NBC's affiliate in Atlanta. "A good example of that is the 1886 Charleston earthquake."

The quake in Charleston, South Carolina damaged about 2,000 buildings and killed 60 people. Modern estimates have placed its magnitude between 6.9 and 7.3.

"While the South isn’t known for earthquakes, but they do happen," the U.S. Geological Survey tweeted. Most of North America east of the Rocky Mountains has infrequent earthquakes.

The only more powerful earthquakes in the region in recent years were a 4.4-magnitude temblor centered near Decatur, Tennessee, in December 2018 and a 4.1-magnitude quake centered near Edgefield, South Carolina in February 2014.

A region of South Carolina around Columbia has experienced 31 earthquakes and aftershocks beginning Dec. 27.