1886 Charleston earthquake
|Date||August 31, 1886|
|Countries or regions||United States, South Carolina|
|Total damage||5-6 million |
|Max. intensity||X (Intense) |
The Charleston Earthquake of 1886 was a powerful intraplate earthquake that hit Charleston, South Carolina, and the East Coast of the US. After the 1811 and 1812 earthquakes in New Madrid, Missouri, it is one of the most powerful and damaging quakes to hit the southeastern United States. The shaking occurred at about 9:50 p.m. on August 31, 1886, and lasted just under a minute. The earthquake caused severe damage in Charleston, damaging 2,000 buildings and causing $6 million worth in damage (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.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2012)|
Major damage occurred as far away as Tybee Island, Georgia, (more than 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. It also caused 60 fatalities.
After the Charleston Earthquake of 1886, Ezekiel Stone Wiggins, known as the Ottawa Prophet, announced that a more powerful disaster would occur at 2 p.m. on September 29; believers in North America panicked, quit work, and dressed in “ascension robes and waited for the end of the world.
The 1886 earthquake is a heavily studied example of an intraplate earthquake. The earthquake is believed[by whom?] 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.[examples needed]
- Stover, C.W.; Coffman, J.L. (1993), Seismicity of the United States, 1568-1989 (Revised), U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1527, United States Government Printing Office, pp. 348–351
- U.S. Geological Survey: Largest Earthquakes in the United States
- Michigan Technological University: Earthquakes In The Midwestern and Eastern United States?!
- Susan Millar Williams and Stephen G. Hoffius 'Upheaval in Charleston : How the great Charleston earthquake forever changed an iconic southern city"
- Fault Map of South Carolina
- Waring Historical Library 1886 Charleston Earthquake Photo Collection
- Isoseismal Map of 1886 Quake
- Photos of Damage and Effects of 1886 Quake
- The Winterthur Library Overview of an archival collection on the Charleston earthquake.
- Personal Experience of the Great Charleston Earthquake, by Isabella Strybing Klinck