For the 21st time this week, earthquakes hit the Columbia area

·6 min read

Two more earthquakes were confirmed in the Columbia area early Sunday morning as seismic activity continued following a recent series of relatively powerful earthquakes.

Sunday’s 1.9 and 1.6 magnitude earthquakes were the 20th and 21st to hit the Midlands in the past week, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Geological Survey.

The first earthquake, recorded at a depth of 2.1 kilometers, or about 1.3 miles, was reported within 3 miles of Elgin at 12:16 a.m., the South Carolina Emergency Management Division said. The second hit about 2 miles beneath the surface in the area closer to Lugoff at 6:29 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“In case you were wondering if it was fireworks or earthquakes earlier this morning …” SCEMD said on Facebook.

While it would normally be no competition between the amount of vibrations caused by fireworks on a Fourth of July holiday weekend in South Carolina and the shaking felt from an earthquake’s tremors, the question is legitimate this year because of all the recent seismic activity.

Last Sunday, an earthquake was recorded in Elgin, according to the USGS. That led a series of earthquakes, or aftershocks, including a pair of 3.5 magnitude and 3.6 magnitude quakes on Wednesday afternoon and early evening.

Those were the two largest quakes to hit South Carolina in nearly a decade. A 4.1-magnitude quake struck McCormick County in 2014.

Another earthquake in Georgia on June 18 reached a 3.9 magnitude and could be felt in much of South Carolina.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, two more earthquakes hit the Midlands.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, two more earthquakes hit the Midlands.

The recent earthquakes mean at least 50 have been detected in the Palmetto State since the start of 2022, according to South Carolina DNR. All but five of the quakes have been in the Midlands.

In all, 52 earthquakes have hit the Columbia area since a 3.3 magnitude quake was recorded on Dec. 27, 2021, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

No major damage or injuries have been reported from any of the recent quakes.

Earthquakes that register 2.5 magnitude or less often go unnoticed and are usually only recorded by a seismograph, according to Michigan Technological University. Any quake less than 5.5 magnitude is not likely to cause significant damage, the school said.

It is typical for South Carolina to have between six and 10 earthquakes a year, the S.C. Geological Survey previously reported. There have been 77 earthquakes in South Carolina since Jan. 18, 2021, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

An explanation for the recent outburst has eluded scientists.

Digging and blasting at mines, water seeping through the ground from lakes, or other changes in weight or pressure underground could all contribute to seismic activity, The State previously reported, but no one has settled on the single cause for the Midlands’ shaking. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control said last week that mining activity is not likely to be the cause of recent earthquakes, as mines in the Elgin area are shallow.

Elgin, located about 20 miles northeast of Columbia and situated on a fault line, has been experiencing an unusual earthquake “swarm” for the past several months, leaving some residents feeling uneasy. The series of quakes might be the longest period of earthquake activity in the state’s history, officials said last week. But officials have said they don’t believe the spate of minor earthquakes is an indicator that a bigger quake could be on the way.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded in South Carolina — and on the East Coast of the U.S. — was a devastating 7.3 in Charleston in 1886.

That quake killed 60 people and was felt over 2.5 million square miles, from Cuba to New York, and Bermuda to the Mississippi River, according to the Emergency Management Division.

Reported earthquakes in SC in 2021-22

Date/Location

Magnitude

Depth (km)

Jan. 18/Dalzell

2.1

6.9

Feb. 13/Summerville

2.1

5.1

May 12/Heath Springs

1.8

9.99

May 31/Summit

2.6

1.7

May 31/Summit

2.0

5.1

July 16/Ladson

2.0

4.0

July 22/Ladson

1.3

3.5

July 22/Ladson

1.95

3.97

Aug. 21/Centerville

1.75

1.97

Aug. 21/Centerville

1.71

3.37

Sept. 27/Summerville

2.8

6.0

Sept. 27/Summerville

2.0

5.8

Sept. 27/Centerville

3.3

6.8

Oct. 25/Jenkinsville

2.2

3.8

Oct. 26/Jenkinsville

1.8

0.0

Oct. 28/Jenkinsville

1.8

1.8

Oct. 28/Jenkinsville

1.7

0.0

Oct. 28/Jenkinsville

2.1

4.2

Oct. 31/Jenkinsville

2.3

0.1

Nov. 1/Jenkinsville

2.0

5.1

Nov. 9/Centerville

1.5

3.8

Nov. 16/Arial

2.2

5.4

Dec. 20/Ladson

1.1

2.8

Dec. 27/Lugoff

3.3

3.2

Dec. 27/Lugoff

2.5

2.4

Dec. 27/Elgin

2.1

0.7

Dec. 27/Lugoff

1.7

4.9

Dec. 29/Elgin

2.3

1.6

Dec. 30/Elgin

2.5

2.5

Dec. 30/Elgin

2.4

3.8

Jan. 3/Lugoff

2.5

2.7

Jan. 5/Lugoff

2.6

0.5

Jan. 5/Lugoff

1.5

7.0

Jan. 9/Ladson

1.4

2.9

Jan. 11/Elgin

1.7

5.4

Jan. 11/Lugoff

2.0

3.2

Jan. 11/Elgin

1.3

5.0

Jan. 15/Elgin

1.8

3.5

Jan. 19/Elgin

1.9

5.0

Jan. 21/Elgin

1.9

4.8

Jan. 27/Lugoff

2.1

1.0

Feb. 2/Elgin

1.5

3.9

March 4/Elgin

1.8

2.8

March 9/Elgin

2.2

3.6

March 11/Camden

2.1

1.2

March 27/Lugoff

2.1

1.9

March 28/Centerville

0.9

2.9

April 7/Elgin

2.0

2.9

April 8/Centerville

1.6

3.6

April 22/Ladson

1.1

3.5

April 22/Taylors

2.2

2.3

May 9/Elgin

3.3

3.1

May 9/Elgin

1.6

2.9

May 9/Elgin

1.78

4.1

May 9/Elgin

2.1

3.7

May 9/Elgin

2.9

5.6

May 10/Elgin

2.3

3.9

May 10/Elgin

2.8

6.2

May 19/Elgin

1.8

2.5

May 21/Elgin

1.9

5.6

June 26/Elgin

1.88

4.09

June 29/Elgin

3.5

2.64

June 29/Elgin

1.88

2.92

June 29/Elgin

3.6

2.95

June 29/Elgin

1.79

2.07

June 29/Elgin

1.51

3.72

June 29/Elgin

1.46

1.93

June 29/Elgin

2.06

2.22

June 30/Elgin

2.32

3.09

June 30/Elgin

1.44

2.8

June 30/Elgin

2.03

3.11

June 30/Elgin

2.15

2.56

June 30/Elgin

2.06

1.92

June 30/Elgin

1.49

2.46

July 1/Elgin

1.55

3.37

July 1/Elgin

2.11

3.83

July 1/Elgin

1.26

3.3

July 1/Elgin

1.68

4.02

July 2/Elgin

2.09

1.65

July 3/Elgin

1.9

2.1

July 3/Lugoff

1.6

3.2

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