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Several Small Earthquakes Shake the Mid-State of South Carolina | March 2009

Two small (magnitudes 2.3 and 2.1) earthquakes occurred near Monticello Reservoir, north of Columbia, South Carolina, on March 18 and 20, 2009. Neither of these small earthquakes appear to have been felt by the public.

The Monticello Reservoir area is a persistent source of small earthquakes in the state of South Carolina, with as many as 290 small earthquakes recorded there in 1999. However, none of these earthquakes have been larger than magnitude 2.5.

There was alsp a magnitude 2.6 earthquake Friday, March 27th approximately halfway between Orangeburg and Aiken Counties (Latitude = 33.5 Longitude = -81.2). Several shaking reports were made to the local and county offices but no damage or injuries have been reported. Shaking reports can be seen or made at the United States Geological Survey website ( Small earthquakes in the area are infrequent, but not unexpected; South Carolina, west of Summerville, generally experiences about 1-2 felt earthquakes a year and numerous smaller ones that are never felt. The most recent felt earthquake in the area was a M=2.5 earthquake in October 2001 and other earthquakes have occurred in this general area.

South Carolina is laced with large and small faults, most of which are relatively aseismic and therefore hard to map at depth. Surface mapping of smaller faults is hampered by the thick sediment cover and the fact that many of the smaller faults never reach the surface. So unlike California, most earthquakes in S.C. occur on un-named, and possibly unknown faults. In South Carolina, we know we have minor to moderate earthquakes west of Summerville that cause no to moderate damage and that they can and have occurred throughout the State. People just need to be aware that they can happen, know what to do during an earthquake, and be prepared. For more information on South Carolina Earthquakes and how to be prepared, take a look at additional information on this website, the SC Emergency Management Department website ( or the United States Geological Survey Website (

South Carolina map with stars indicating location of earthquakes
Check out the USGS Did You Feel It? Web Site
Last Updated: August 3, 2010
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