1886 Charleston earthquake

1886 Charleston earthquake
1886 Charleston earthquake
1886 Charleston earthquake is located in South Carolina
Date August 31, 1886 (1886-08-31)
Magnitude 7.3 ML
Epicenter 32°54′N 80°00′W / 32.9°N 80.0°W / 32.9; -80.0Coordinates: 32°54′N 80°00′W / 32.9°N 80.0°W / 32.9; -80.0
Countries or regions  United States, South Carolina
Casualties 60
Damage from Charleston earthquake of August 31, 1886
One of many "earthquake bolts" found throughout period houses in the city of Charleston. These could be added to existing unreinforced masonry buildings to add additional support to the structure without having to demolish the structure due to instability. The bolts pass through the existing masonry walls tying walls on opposite sides of the structure together for stability.

The Charleston Earthquake of 1886 was a powerful intraplate earthquake that hit the area of Charleston, South Carolina. After the 1811 and 1812 quakes in New Madrid, Missouri, it is one of the most powerful and damaging quakes to hit the southeastern United States.[1][2] The shaking occurred at 9:50 p.m. on August 31, 1886 and lasted just under a minute. The earthquake caused severe damage in Charleston, South Carolina, damaging 2,000 buildings and causing $6 million worth in damages (over $141 million in 2009 dollars), while in the whole city the buildings were only valued at approximately $24 million. Between 60 and 110 lives were lost. Some of the damage is still seen today.

Major damage occurred as far away as Tybee Island, Georgia, (over 60 miles away) and structural damage was reported several hundred miles from Charleston (including central Alabama, central Ohio, eastern Kentucky, southern Virginia and western West Virginia). It was felt as far away as Boston to the north, Chicago and Milwaukee to the northwest, as far west as New Orleans, as far south as Cuba, and as far east as Bermuda.

The earthquake is estimated to have been between 6.6 and 7.3 on the Richter scale with a Mercalli Intensity of X. Sandblows were common throughout the affected area due to liquefaction of the soil. More than 300 aftershocks of the 1886 earthquake occurred within 35 years. Minor earthquake activity that still continues in the area today may be a continuation of aftershocks. Very little to no historical earthquake activity occurred in the Charleston area prior to the 1886 event, which is unusual for any seismic area. This may have contributed to the severity of the tremor.

The 1886 earthquake is a heavily studied example of an intraplate earthquake. The earthquake is believed to have occurred on faults formed during the break-up of Pangaea. Similar faults are found all along the east coast of North America. It is thought that such ancient faults remain active from forces exerted on them by present-day motions of the North American Plate. The exact mechanisms of intraplate earthquakes are a subject of much ongoing research.


See also



External links

Personal Experience of the Great Charleston Earthquake, by Isabella Strybing Klinck

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