Largest East Coast quake struck 135 years ago in Charleston

August 29, 2021 GMT

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The 135th anniversary of the strongest earthquake ever recorded on the U.S. East Coast is coming up Tuesday.

The magnitude 7 earthquake shook Charleston after dark on Aug. 31, 1886, killing more than 100 people and causing about $100 million in damage, the United States Geological Survey said in a statement.

If an earthquake that same size struck the same place today after the growth in Charleston, studies have determined there could be 900 deaths and $20 billion in damage, the agency said.

People reported feeling the 1886 earthquake as far away as New York and Illinois. More than 400 aftershocks were recorded over the next 30 years.

The Geological Survey is using airplanes with laser scanning and measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field to closely map the faults though the Charleston area where future earthquakes could happen.

They are also placing temporary seismometers that detect shaking to detect smaller quakes that should give them an idea which faults are the most unstable, officials said.