Earthquake power hits new high in Elgin, SC in latest quake

A Midlands town Sunday was hit by the strongest earthquake it has felt in an active seven months for seismic events.

A 3.4 magnitude earthquake occurred at about 1:30 am in Elgin, a town about 20 miles northeast of Columbia, according to the United States Geological Survey.

While relatively weak, the 3.4 magnitude quake is the most powerful in a series of earthquakes to shake up Elgin and neighboring town Lugoff since December.

Since late December, national geologists have reported 32 earthquakes and aftershocks in those South Carolina towns.

The previous quake to hit the near the towns, at 1.9 magnitude, occurred on May 21, most likely an aftershock of a 3.3 magnitude quake a couple weeks before. The first in the string of earthquakes happened on Dec. 27 and also reached 3.3 magnitude.

Most earthquakes don’t cause noticeable damage until they reach a magnitude of 5. Below that people may feel shaking or hear loud booms or other similar noises.

Georgia earthquake was felt in SC

The Sunday morning earthquake wasn’t the only potent one recently.

The most powerful to hit Georgia or South Carolina in eight years struck last week.

The earthquake, reaching 3.9 magnitude, hit about 4 am on June 19 and was centered near Stillmore, Georgia, according to geologists. That’s about an hour west of Jasper County’s border with Georgia.

People as far away as Clover in York County reported feeling the earthquake to the USGS. Dozens of people in the Columbia area said they felt a tremor. The majority of residents who felt the quake in South Carolina live in Aiken and Edgefield counties.

The increase in earthquakes in the Midlands has perplexed but not worried geologists. One earthquake tends to have aftershocks, though they don’t typically continue for as long as they have in the Midlands, geologists said.

Earthquakes are fairly common in South Carolina, according to the state Emergency Management Division, with 10 to 15 occurring each year. An earthquake that hit Charleston in 1886 was the most damaging to ever hit the eastern United States, and was the most destructive in the entire US in the 19th century.

This story was originally published June 26, 2022 8:35 AM.

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David Travis Bland was named the 2020 South Carolina Journalist of the Year by the SC Press Association. He joined The State in 2018. He writes about crime, police and the criminal legal system. He graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2010.
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