South Carolina’s strongest earthquake in eight years rattles state

City of Columbia felt the brunt of Wednesday’s quake

Earthquake felt near LA
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A 3.5 magnitude earthquake shook parts of South Carolina on Wednesday.

The earthquake struck at 2.43pm and was centred near Elgin, 20 miles northeast of the state capital of Columbia, and was the strongest recorded in the state in eight years.

Almost 4,000 people reported to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) that they felt the quake, with residents as far away as Augusta noticing the tremors.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) said a swarm of aftershocks were felt in the hours after initial quake.

A tremor measuring 2.04 struck at 2.57pm, followed by two more at 4.02pm and 4.34pm.

“We’d like to get off the ride now, please,” the SCEMD said in a tweet.

Early on Sunday morning, a 3.4 earthquake jolted residents out of bed, and there have been continual aftershocks in the days since.

South Carolina is one of the most seismically active states on the East Coast, and the state has multiple fault systems running through it.

The state averages about 20 each year, as part of the state sits atop the Easter Piedmont fault system, which extends from Alabama north into Virginia. The fault system is ancient and likely formed around 480 million years ago, the same time the Appalachian Mountains rose.

But experts have been puzzled by a series of more than 30 earthquakes that began last December.

They believe the faultlines could be becoming more active.

The last time the state suffered a major earthquake was 1886. That year, Charleston suffered the largest earthquake ever recorded in the southeastern US when a quake of at least a 7 magnitude rocked the city, leaving dozens dead and hundreds of buildings destroyed.

The strongest earthquake ever recorded in the United States was a magnitude 9.2 that occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1964.

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