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story.lead_photo.caption A helicorder display from an instrument set up at the Ozark Folk Center records an earthquake centered near Parkin Monday. - Photo by Arkansas Geological Survey

— A preliminary 3.9-magnitude quake was felt near Parkin Monday, rattling buildings and shaking the ground in a wide swath of eastern Arkansas and neighboring states.

The temblor occurred just before 7:40 a.m. 6 miles southwest of the Cross County town and about 16 miles north-northeast of Forrest City.

Delores Atkins, who owns the Atkins City Cafe in Parkin with her husband, said customers ran out of the eatery when the quake struck. She said it sounded "like an explosion," leading everyone to think a train had just overturned outside.

"They were all running out the front door," Atkins said by phone less than an hour after the tremors. "It was pretty bad because the floor was shaking, the windows were shaking. I got weak in the knees. I could barely get out of here."

Scott Ausbrooks, geohazards supervisor for the Arkansas Geological Survey, said the quake may have been spurred by the New Madrid fault, which extends from Arkansas into Missouri and Illinois. It was previously thought to end near Marked Tree, though that ending is based on previous earthquakes since the fault is deep beneath the earth and can't be observed directly.

"If you drew a straight line from Marked Tree, this is pretty much on line with that," Ausbrooks said. "I would call this a New Madrid earthquake."

Atkins said the shaking was the topic of the morning as business resumed with customers talking about it as they ate and constant phone calls coming from friends and family. She said she heard from people in Wynne, West Memphis and Earle who felt it.

Atkins said the area is not typically seismically active.

"The last time I heard about something similar to that was 30 years ago, and I've lived here all my life," she said.

There were no preliminary reports of damage or injuries in the small earthquake. More than 350 people in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee reported feeling the shaking on the survey's website, including one response from Little Rock describing it as weak shaking.

An official with the Parkin Police Department said dispatchers took about 20 calls from residents curious about the shaking, though no problems were reported.

Thousands of small earthquakes have been recorded in Arkansas in recent years, including more than 20 in the last two months, according to records kept by the Arkansas Geological Survey. None has occurred recently in the Parkin area before Monday, however.

Ausbrooks said it's possible additional quakes could be felt in the region, though they would likely be weaker.

"But you just never know," he said.


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