Magnitude 4.1 earthquake rattles Palmetto State

Published: Feb. 15, 2014 at 5:25 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2014 at 4:00 AM EST
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(Source: USGS)
(Source: USGS)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The United States Geological Survey reported a magnitude 4.1 earthquake about 7 miles northwest of Edgefield Friday around 10:23 p.m. The agency earlier had reported a magnitude of 4.4 before revising it downward.

USGS geophysicist Dale Grant told WIS the quake was only about three miles deep.

"Shallow quakes generate most of their quakes from the surface, so it is widely felt," Grant said. "We have reports of it being felt throughout South Carolina and Georgia and southern parts of North Carolina."

Edgefield County Emergency Manager Mike Casey said no damage has been reported so far but added reports may roll in once the sun comes up.

"We might expect some shaking and things falling off shelves, but with this being a light quake, I don't think that it's going to generate any extensive damage," Grant said.

According to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, all nuclear facilities in the area reported stable and normal operations after the earthquake.

The largest earthquake in the area was a magnitude 5.1, which occurred in 1916, according to the USGS.

"We do have a historical background here, close to this location," Grant said. "August 2, 1974, it was a 4.3 and we have had three others in addition to that historically over the last 40 years."

The most powerful quake in recorded history to hit South Carolina occurred on August 31, 1886, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. A quake with an estimated magnitude of 7.6 was centered near Summerville, SC.

Approximately 60 people died as a result of the quake. It was reported that ground shaking damaged structures as far away as 200 miles from Charleston.  It was the strongest earthquake known to hit the east coast.

Earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S., although less frequent than in the western U.S., are typically felt over a much broader region.

Earthquakes everywhere occur on faults within bedrock, usually miles deep. Most bedrock beneath the inland Carolinas was assembled as continents collided to form a supercontinent about 500-300 million years ago, raising the Appalachian Mountains.

If you felt the earthquake, you can report it to the USGS here.

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