Small earthquake hits southern Illinois.

The area where the U.S. Geological Survey says a small earthquake hit about 5 a.m. Monday. (Google Maps / March 11, 2013)

A small earthquake measuring 2.7 magnitude hit near Benton in southern Illinois this morning but appears to have done little, if any, damage in the rural area.

The quake occurred around 5 a.m. about 11 miles east of where Interstate 57 passes through Benton, the seat of Franklin County, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The closest town is Macedonia, population 50.

The Franklin County sheriff's office said it had gotten no reports of injuries or damages.

The quake hit to the north and west of what is called the New Madrid seismic zone.

Strong earthquakes from the New Madrid fault and other faults in what's known as the Illinois Basin-Ozark Dome area have hit southern Illinois and nearby parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana and Kentucky over the years, including a series of devastating quakes in 1811 and 1812.

The largest earthquake in the area in memory was in 1968 and registered a 5.4 magnitude, what the geological survey calls a moderately damaging quake.

The last strong earthquake to hit southern Illinois was in April 2008, when a 5.2 magnitude quake struck near West Salem, affecting areas including Mount Carmel, about 80 miles east of Benton.

A mild earthquake, with a 3.8-magnitude, hit the Chicago area on Feb. 10, 2010.

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