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South Carolina earthquake: Rare southern quake comes on the heels of snowstorm

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A South Carolina earthquake hit struck Friday night in west and central South Carolina, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The rare southern quake – 4.1 on the Richter magnitude scale – alarmed millions of residents who were already dealing with an equally uncommon southern snowstorm.

CNN on Saturday said the “Valentine’s Day earthquake” was the strongest to hit South Carolina since 2002. The quake’s epicenter was near Edgefield, S.C., about 25 miles north of Augusta, Ga. and 60 miles southwest of Columbia, S.C.

No significant damages or injuries were reported.

Nevertheless, “it's a large quake for that area," USGS geophysicist Dale Grant said. "It was felt all over the place."

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, who said she felt the quake at her Governor’s Mansion in Columbia, sent out crews yesterday to review bridges and other infrastructure to see if any damage had been done.

The South rarely experiences an earthquake over a 4.0 magnitude. Georgia had a 4.3 magnitude quake in 1974, and only three similar-size quakes have been reported in South Carolina since 1970.

The CS Monitor, via Yahoo! News, explains the possible cause of the S.C. quake:

“According to geologists, Friday’s “Valentine’s Day Quake” may have been caused by the subterranean breakdown of the ancient Appalachian Mountains, where ongoing sedimentation along a smaller fault line may have loosed an underground mega-boulder enough for it to suddenly push upward hard enough to roil the earth. Picture a stack of floating logs, and the shift upwards that happens when a top log is removed.”

Since 1973, the East coast has had over 2,000 earthquakes, though most of them are fairly imperceptible.

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