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The answer to frequent Midlands earthquakes is far beneath the surface

USGS reported seven earthquakes on Wednesday and talked about how this happens.

ELGIN, S.C. — South Carolina Emergency Management reported Wednesday's earthquakes marked the longest swarm of consistent earthquakes in South Carolina history. 

The swarm started back in December 2021.

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The epicenters of two of the earthquakes were located in Elgin 400 feet apart. News 19 spoke with a business owner who says she's lived in Elgin her whole life and he's never felt an earthquake before.

“It was like a big Mac coming through like a big truck you know. That’s what it felt like in the beginning," Angie Cattano, owner of Angie's Kitchen and Bath said.

The two strongest earthquakes were in Elgin and they ranked 3.4 and 3.6 on the Richter scale. At those points, the cracks aren't visible on the Earth's surface. Scott White with the University of South Carolina says the cracks are much deeper and where the earthquakes are coming from.

RELATED: Early morning earthquakes continue to rattle South Carolina

“That’s a preexisting line of weakness so when stress builds up in the earth you have a preexisting crack that crack is going to reactivate and I think that’s what we’re seeing right now," White said.

The stress comes from movement between tectonic plates. 

In simpler terms, the earth's surface is made up of plates. These plates constantly move and shift and places like South Carolina that sit in the middle of these plates feel stress or earthquakes as a result of the shifting.

RELATED: New 3.6 earthquake felt in South Carolina, strongest one in 8 years

Scott adds while the earthquakes seem more frequent that doesn't mean they'll get worse. 

“One of the questions I often get is are these earthquakes getting strong with time. And the answer to that is not really," he said.

Scott says no one can predict earthquakes before they occur. 

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