USGS issues earthquake advisory for Midlands, SC

First Alert meteorologist Chrissy Kohler breaks down a new earthquake advisory for part of South Carolina.
Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 12:56 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2022 at 4:45 PM EDT
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ELGIN, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The United States Geological Survey (USGS) provided scenarios to estimate the chance of larger earthquakes as part of an ongoing swarm in the Midlands.

The swarm in Elgin, SC began on Dec. 27, 2021, with a magnitude 3.3 earthquake, according to USGS. The largest earthquake to hit so far has been a magnitude 3.6 event on June 29, 2022.

USGS says an earthquake “swarm” refers to a prolonged sequence of earthquakes that lacks any clear primary event or mainshock. Swarms can keep the earthquake rate elevated for a few days to many months.

“It is generally not possible to predict how long an ongoing swarm will last until it has run its course and it’s impossible to predict the size of the largest earthquake in the sequence,” officials said.

The agency said the Elgin area has a history of occasional small, scattered earthquakes, but none particularly of large magnitude. The largest earthquake within 50 miles (80 km) was in 1913 in Union County, when a magnitude 5.5 earthquake struck about 90 km northwest of the recent earthquakes.

During an earthquake swarm, the rate of earthquakes is increased, and the probability of larger earthquakes goes up accordingly. This swarm has produced a fairly constant trickle of earthquakes since December 2021, with 0 to 15 earthquakes larger than magnitude 2.0 occurring each month.

The USGS provides scenarios that are based on the assumption that the rate of smaller earthquakes remains roughly the same over the next month.

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