Expert explains recent SC earthquakes

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 10:59 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Two more earthquakes were reported out of the Midlands on Tuesday afternoon. This makes seven in less than two days.

The U.S. Geological Survey said both quakes hit near I-20 in Kershaw County just outside Elgin. One was a magnitude 2.9 and the other was a 2.3.

This comes after five earthquakes shook South Carolina on Monday, including a notable magnitude 3.3 quake outside Columbia.

South Carolina has experienced more than 30 quakes since the start of 2022.

On average, the state has less than 20 quakes annually.

“We might call this an earthquake swarm,” Scott White, Ph.D., said.

White is a professor at University of South Carolina and serves as the Director of South Carolina Seismic Network.

“We’ve had about 32 earthquakes in this swarm. They span from a little bit less than 1.5 up to 3.3,” White said.

Unlike weather, White said quakes are unpredictable and can happen at any moment.

“They’re all related to the release of stress in the earth’s crust where two big blocks of rock kind of slowly jag against each other and break,” White said.

What’s causing so many quakes? Experts said it’s a mystery.

“Our understanding of earthquake swarms and their triggers is still not really great in the field,” White said, “It’s a tricky thing to answer how the earth relieves itself of stress.”

The recent swarm of quakes have hit along the Eastern Piedmont Fault System which runs diagonally through the state and directly through the Midlands.