South Carolina earthquakes felt as far away as Augusta

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Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 2:52 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - Eight total earthquakes hit the Palmetto State Wednesday, near Columbia, and some of the aftershocks were felt in areas as far away as Augusta.

The first, a quake registering 3.5 magnitude was recorded at 2:43 p.m. Wednesday three miles east of Elgin.

An Augusta resident reported feeling it as far away as Doctors Hospital.

A magnitude 2.1 aftershock was also felt where the quake occurred, followed by a third magnitude 1.88 quake at around 4 p.m. and a fourth magnitude 1.51 being reported shortly after that.

The fifth, a magnitude 3.6 quake, was reported at 7:03 p.m. After initially being reported as a magnitude 3.34, the USGS revised its report - marking the strongest earthquake felt in South Carolina since 2014.

A pair of aftershocks - magnitude 1.79 and 1.46, respectively - were also reported following the latest quake.

And the eighth and most recent quake hit the Midlands near midnight Thursday. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) reported a 2.4 magnitude earthquake at around 12:23 p.m. It was located about 3 miles to the south west of Lugoff and approximately 4 miles below ground.

7:03 p.m. earthquake, June 29, 2022
7:03 p.m. earthquake, June 29, 2022(WRDW)

Elgin has been a focal point of a so-called swarm of earthquakes lately, including a 3.3-magnitude quake early Sunday.

According to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, there have now been more than 30 earthquakes near Elgin since Christmas.

Dr. Scott White, director of the South Carolina Seismic Network and a professor at the University of South Carolina’s School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment, said while this activity is unusual, it’s not abnormal for South Carolina or the Southeast.

Plus “there’s nothing about this that suggests that the earthquakes are going to get any larger,” he said.

That is because, according to White, in the geological record there are almost never foreshocks, which are earthquakes that precede larger earthquakes in the same location. They can happen, but they are quite rare, he said.

White says that while earthquakes are often measured in magnitude, another detail to consider is intensity. This measures the amount of shaking one may feel from an earthquake at any given location.

He said most of the earthquakes in the Elgin area have been about a 4 in terms of intensity. An intensity of 5 is when you could start to see loose objects fall, White said.

Still, the quakes can be jarring.

“It is terrible to feel something shaking you and you don’t know what it is,” said Elgin resident Carmen L. Jackson. “I mean you’re in the bed and the bed’s shaking. Man, that’s like a horror story on TV.”

WIS and WMBF contributed to this report.

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