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79th earthquake strikes in the Elgin area of Kershaw County

The 1.3 magnitude tremor happened at 12:52 p.m. in an area 4.1 miles east southeast of Elgin.

ELGIN, S.C. — A small earthquake happened in Elgin Thursday, and along with the one that took place the other day, represents a return to activity after a temporary halt in the earthquake swarm that's plagued the area all year.

The 1.3 magnitude tremor happened at 12:52 p.m. in an area 4.1 miles east southeast of Elgin. It was recorded at a depth of 2.2 miles below the surface. 

At that strength, it's extremely unlikely anyone felt it. It follows the 1.9 magnitude quake that took place September 20, just two days earlier.

Before that quake, the last earthquake in that area was back on August 27, a gap of 24 days. 

Since the area began seeing a rash of earthquakes last December, this was the second longest pause in quakes, only topped by a time from April 7 to May 9. 

RELATED: What is the likelihood of more earthquakes in South Carolina? USGS weighs in.

Thursday's quake was the 79th earthquake in that area since December 27, when a 3.3 tremor struck. The largest of the quakes happened on June 29, 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.

RELATED: Is this the reason there are so many earthquakes in Kershaw County?

Experts state the quakes are part of a swarm that appears to be the longest in the state's history.  

What's causing the swarm is still being researched, but last month, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources released a report that suggested the nearby Lake Wateree could be responsible. They believe the initial earthquake in late December may have allowed water from the Wateree River to seep into new cracks that opened from the original December earthquake, which has now set off additional tremors in the area.

Researchers have set up recording devices in the area to gather more data about the quakes.  Last week, town leaders held a virtual forum with residents about the phenomena.  

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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