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Experts Study Earthquakes for Useful Information

6:19 PM, Feb 17, 2014   |    comments
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Edgefield, SC (WLTX) -- Two spots in Edgefield, South Carolina will go down in history after two earthquakes stemming from the town were felt across the entire state and beyond.

"There are faults in the Piedmont, they have a tendency to reactivate and activate every so often and fire off," said Department of Natural Resources Geological Survey Chief Geologist Scott Howard. "This is not unsusual except in that this was a pretty large one."

The first earthquake on Friday marks the second largest in South Carolina since 1950, at a recorded magnitude of 4.1. The event has gained national attention, including on CBS This Morning, where famed physicist Michio Kaku explained the complexity of these types of earthquakes.

"Here in the middle of a plate we have ancient fissures, some of them going back hundreds of millions of years and we don't even know the configuration," said Kaku. "We don't even know the geometry of these things and they're potentially very dangerous."

On Saturday, a 3.2 aftershock struck Saturday afternoon.

Howard and his team will will start looking on Tuesday for any physical evidence leftover that could help in the future.

"One of the things that we like to be able to do is say that there's a recurrence interval on an earthquake," said Howard. "How long before the next one happens? That is based on a lot of times visible information that you can collect and date."

With the second earthquake or aftershock coming in only two days after the first, experts say there may be more aftershocks that will continue until they're so small we won't be able to feel them. Howard adds that it's nothing to worry about and is confident his team will be able to gather some useful information from the events.

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