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New devices could finally solve the mystery of Elgin, Lugoff earthquakes

The researchers installed 86 new monitors.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — University of South Carolina researchers could be one step closer to understanding the recent string of earthquakes, known as a swarm, that started just less than a year ago in Kershaw County.

Researchers have been analyzing the swarm using devices called seismometers. These devices go into the ground to collect data on the movement of the plates beneath the Earth's surface.

This month, the university installed 86 new small seismometers to get better results. Daniel Frost, an assistant professor at USC's School of Earth, Ocean & Environment, said they're getting help from a neighboring state as well.

“Working with Georgia tech we installed 86 nodal seismometers," Frost said. "A nodal seismometer is a meter seismometer it’s like the size of a volleyball.”

Because of the size of the devices, the university was able to install more near the epicenter of the earthquake swarm.

“There have been earthquakes happening in Elgin since the start of the year and no one’s got a really good answer for what’s going on with them,” he said.

But these new devices should provide more accurate results.

“We’re hoping that, now, we have these seismometers right on top of where the swarm is happening, we’ll be able to better locate where these earthquakes are," Frost said.

The new seismometers could help pinpoint the source of the disturbances beneath the Earth's surface. The size also factored into the cost. Because the meters were small, the university was able to purchase 86.

The devices are buried between Elgin, the epicenter, and Fort Jackson. The results from the new small seismometers won't be recorded until January.

Frost said it's important to note that the earthquakes in South Carolina are mostly harmless.

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