KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WSPA) — Some of South Carolina’s leading geologists released a new report about the ongoing earthquake swarm in Kershaw County.
Geologists say the new report was put together to help the public better understand what was going on in Kershaw County and why it is happening.
Since December 2021, scientists have recorded more than 60 earthquakes near Elgin and Lugoff.
The strongest, a 3.6 magnitude earthquake, was reported in late June.
In their report, geologists from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Geological Survey, the University of South Carolina and College of Charleston explain the concept of earthquake swarms, the numbers of earthquakes that have been experienced in the Elgin area during the past seven months, the difference between magnitude and intensity when measuring seismic events and why the earthquakes have been occurring so frequently along the Interstate 20 corridor between Elgin and Lugoff.
“The unusually long earthquake swarm in the Midlands area has understandably led to a lot of questions and speculation,” said State Geologist Scott Howard, with the S.C. Geological Survey under SCDNR. “We know that there is a lot we can explain about these seismic events and wanted to help answer a lot of those questions and limit confusion among the media and members of the public.”
Geologists say the earthquakes have been happening along an ancient fault system, the Eastern Piedmont Fault System. They said this system is not related to the Charleston Seismic Zone and its earthquakes.
According to the report, geologists are investigating the concept of hydroseismicity and the effect of water acting on fault planes. They say the Wateree River, fluctuating river discharges and seasonal precipitation
could be contributing to the current seismicity in the area.
Howard said, “Because of the proximity of the river we think it could be factor. Is it causing the earthquakes? Not really. It may be facilitating the earthquakes.”
The report states more studies need to be done but this is something they are considering.
In March, WSPA Chief Meteorologist Christy Henderson spoke with Emeritus University of South Carolina professor of geophysics, Dr. Pradeep Talwani, about the Wateree River’s impact.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division encourages all residents to stay informed about and be prepared for earthquake activity in the state.
“Though the frequency of these minor earthquakes may alarm some, we do not expect a significantly damaging earthquake in South Carolina at this time, even though we know our state had them decades ago,” SCEMD Director Kim Stenson said. “Now is the time to review your insurance policies for earthquake coverage, secure any items in your home that may become hazards during a tremor, and remember to Drop, Cover, and Hold on until the shaking passes. These are the precautions South Carolinians can take to properly prepare for earthquakes.”
Kershaw County and the Town of Elgin will be hosting a virtual town hall to discuss this ongoing earthquake swarm next week.