On Valentine’s Day at 10:23 p.m. the residents of South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina quite literally felt the earth move when an earthquake struck the area.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake came in at a magnitude of 4.1. It epicenter was about seven miles west-northwest of Edgefield, South Carolina. The depth of the earthquake was gauged to be at three miles underground.
Social media lit up Friday night with reports of the earthquake being felt in the states of South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina. People reportedly felt the ground tremble for several seconds. One Columbia, South Carolina resident, Jennifer McNair, shared a bit of inside humor after the earthquake posting to Facebook that she had received a text saying, “Did Clowney just hit that kid from Michigan again?” – a reference to a game-changing play made by the South Carolina Gamecocks’ defensive end Jadeveon Clowney during last year’s Outback Bowl.
There have been no reports of injuries or damage due to the Valentine’s Day earthquake, according to South Carolina Emergency Management Division spokesman Derrec Becker. According to Billy Birdwell, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, cameras mounted at the J. Strom Thurmond Dam do not show any indication of damage to the structure, but a more thorough check is planned for today. The South Carolina Department of Transportation reports that it will be out surveying roads and bridges on Saturday as well. In addition, a spokesman for SCE&G said that they would be doing a walk-through inspection at the Lake Murray Dam.
According to Edgefield County Emergency Preparedness Director, Mike Casey, the area at the center of the earthquake is a sparsely populated area with “a lot more rabbits and deer than people” so he expects that while there will be damage reports, they will be minor.
According to South Carolina governor Nikki Haley’s office, the state is already a step ahead in managing the situation due to the fact that they were already in “emergency mode” because of the bad weather; the area residents had just finished dealing with a very rare winter snowstorm.
Speaking about the causes of the earthquake, geologists say that it may have been due to the underground breakup of the Appalachian Mountains. Ongoing sedimentation along a fault line may have loosened a subterranean boulder, causing it to suddenly move upward with enough force to stir up the earth.
Earthquakes are actually quite common in South Carolina, with 12 having occurred in the past 13 months. However, none of the other quakes surpassed a magnitude of 2.5. The most recent earthquake was larger than most with its magnitude of 4.1. It is the biggest earthquake to strike the area since 2002. The last earthquake of a similar magnitude, coming in a 4.4, hit just offshore of Seabrook Island on November 11, 2002.
South Carolina also felt the effects of the strongest earthquake on record for the East Coast, which struck in August 1886. That 7.3-magnitude earthquake left 60 residents of Charleston, South Carolina dead. The largest inland South Carolina earthquake occurred in 1916 with a magnitude of 5.1. Both of these earthquakes were significantly stronger than the one which struck yesterday on Valentine’s Day.
By Nancy Schimelpfening
First Coast News
Personal Interview With Jennifer McNair