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What's with all the earthquakes? DHEC has some answers

South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control answered some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the recent Elgin earthquakes

COLUMBIA, S.C. — With the recent earthquake swarm -- nine quakes on Wednesday and Thursday alone -- South Carolina's top health agency is providing a few answers.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) took to social media to answer some questions about what may be causing the tremors.

Could the earthquakes be a result of mining operations in the Lugoff-Elgin area? DHEC-permitted mines in the area are surface pits, with the majority of those measuring 30 feet or less in depth. The shallowness of these mining pits would not be expected to contribute to seismic activity. 

What about the gold mine near Ridgeway? Even the Haile Gold Mine, which is included in the DHEC data because of its proximity (roughly 40 miles from Elgin), is not deep enough to cause or contribute to earthquakes. The deepest mine in the area is 900 feet deep and is located approximately 75 miles away.  

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has recorded the originating depth of the recent earthquakes as being from 6,336 to 12,672 feet deep.

RELATED: Could earthquakes be impacting buildings around the Midlands?

Can fracking -- injecting pressurized steam into the earth to access oil and mineral deposits underground -- be the cause of the earthquakes? There are no fracking operations in South Carolina.

Are the quakes caused by fault lines running through the state? There are multiple fault lines running throughout South Carolina, making the state one of the most seismically active states on the East Coast. The South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) has published an earthquake guide that gives the history of earthquakes in South Carolina and tips for surviving earthquakes.

How can you track or get information about the latest earthquakes? The US Geological Survey (USGS) records information about earthquakes around the world. You can get the latest information on the USGS website and can filter your results to see earthquakes in your area over time.

The USGS says earthquakes are not uncommon in the Elgin area, "but having a sequence of about 40 earthquakes in such a short time is unusual. Many earthquakes of similar magnitudes have occurred in the eastern U.S., but it is extremely rare for them to be foreshocks to much larger earthquakes. This swarm will continue for an unknown length of time, and if it stops it may resume sometime in the future."

As of Thursday, June 30, 2022, there have been 43 earthquakes in the same area surrounding Elgin since December 2021.

The USGS also reports the current series of Elgin quakes do not seem to be related to the seven earthquakes reported near Jenkinsville and the Monticello Reservoir in October 2021.

Still concerned? The Town of Elgin is coordinating with DHEC, SCEMD, and other organizations to hold a town hall meeting for residents and businesses to talk about the recent earthquakes and express their concerns.

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