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Earthquake strikes in Elgin after months of quiet

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake struck around 9:14 Monday night

COLUMBIA, S.C. — After months of quiet, another small earthquake has struck near the Elgin area in Kershaw County.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake struck around 9:14 Monday night about 3.7 miles east-southeast of Elgin, in an area just east of Interstate 20. It was at a depth of 2.2 miles and had a magnitude of 1.7 on the moment magnitude scale. 

That's at a strength that would be hard for many people to feel. The 'did you feel it' map backs that up, with almost no one reporting that they felt the tremor. 

Still, it marks the first seismic action for a region that spent a year getting routinely rattled by earthquakes This latest quake was the first recorded in that area since a 1.3 was detected on February 28. 

But that's a sharp change from what happened from the end of 2021 through October of 2022. During that time, there were 83 minor quakes detected.

The unusual activity began on December 27,2021 when a 3.3 tremor struck. The largest of the quakes happened on June 29, 2022 when a 3.6 was recorded that afternoon, just hours after a 3.5 took place. The 3.6 quake was the strongest in the state in eight years.

Experts state the quakes were part of a swarm that appears to be the longest in the state's history.   What caused the swarm still hasn't been definitively determined, but last year, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources released a report that suggested the nearby Lake Wateree could be responsible. They believe the initial earthquake may have allowed water from the Wateree River to seep into new cracks that opened from the original December earthquake, which set off additional tremors in the area. 

Earthquakes happen throughout the state but mostly occur near the coast. Approximately 70 percent of earthquakes are in the coastal plain, with most happening in the Lowcountry.  

Back in 1886, Charleston was hit by a catastrophic earthquake. It had an estimated magnitude of 7.3, and was felt as far away and Cuba and New York. At least 60 people were killed, and thousands of building were damaged.

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