ELGIN, S.C. (WSPA) – Kershaw County features good people, good barbeque and lately, a good amount of earthquakes.
“I was in my bed asleep, and it shook so hard I thought the word was coming to an end!” Ronnie Snyder said. “I was like, ‘Oh Lord, oh Lord.’ I ran to the front and I ran to the back and I didn’t see anything, so I said, ‘well, that must be an earthquake.”
A magnitude 3.3 earthquake shook the area on Dec. 27, 2021. Since then, the Lugoff/Elgin area in the South Carolina midlands saw 18 earthquakes through early January 2022. It was unsettling to residents and puzzling to scientists.
“We started feeling more of these aftershocks and they were coming, like, daily. Around the same time, wee hours in the morning. And I started paying attention to it. And I’m like, ‘We’re really having earthquakes. Is anyone paying attention to this at all?'” Doroeathea Beach said.
Emeritus University of South Carolina professor of geophysics, Dr. Pradeep Talwani, has studied earthquakes in the Carolinas for the past 50 years.
When the earthquake swarm caught his attention, he looked back at previous studies of the Eastern Piedmont Fault System that stretches from Alabama, across the midlands, and up to Virginia.
“We have what we call local stress buildup. If you have a place you can build up a very large local stress, you can generate a large earthquake. If you have small a amount of stress, you have small earthquakes,” Dr. Talwani said.
Sure enough, the quakes were concentrated around an area less than 5 miles apart.
After further investigation, his research found that the Wateree River runs across the fault in that same location.
His hypothesis was that some water may have been able to seep into cracks produced by the fault on the riverbed. This extra pressure may have been the pressure needed to cause the earthquakes.
Though residents near the epicenter of these quakes aren’t too rattled, some showed concern about the potential for even more.