Notable Earthquake of the Week
Charleston, South Carolina M 7.7 Earthquake

It was the most damaging earthquake ever to strike the Eastern United States, and one of the largest shocks ever in the continental United States. On August 31, 1886, a powerful earthquake registering M 7.7 struck Charleston, South Carolina.

Shaking was violent, registering intensities of IX-X on the Modified Mercalli intensity scale (a relative intensity rating from 1-12 shown in Roman numerals). The earthquake was centered on the outskirts of Charleston along the Ashley River fault, near Summerville.

It leveled nearly every building in the Charleston region and caused at least 60 deaths. Structural damage was reported several hundreds of miles from the epicenter, and the quake was felt as far away as Boston, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cuba, and Bermuda. Ground subsidence and liquefaction play a major role in the damage.

Since the 1886 quake, South Carolina has experienced six temblors in the M 4.0 range, with the largest, a M 4.8, triggering in 1913. The most recent M 4.0+ temblor struck August 21, 1992, and measured M 4.1.


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