The quake happened at 10:23 p.m. EST and had a preliminary magnitude of 4.1, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s website. It was centered 7 miles west of the town of Edgefield, S.C. , and was felt as far west as Atlanta and as far north as Hickory, N.C., each about 150 miles away.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported two nearby dams on the Savannah River appeared to be undamaged, but planned a thorough inspection Saturday morning, Edgefield County Emergency Preparedness Director Mike Casey said.
Casey said the quake was centered in a sparsely populated part of Edgefield County where there are a lot more rabbits and deer than people. He was driving around and hadn’t found any damage, but he expects some reports of minor damages to come in once the sun rises.
Authorities across South Carolina said their 911 centers were inundated with calls of people reporting what they thought were explosions or plane crashes as the quake’s low rumble spread across the state.
Reports surfaced on Twitter of a leaking water tower in Augusta, Ga., following the quake, but the tower was damaged by ice from a winter storm earlier this week and not the quake, said Richmond County Sheriff’s Lt. Tangela McCorkle.
No damages or injuries from the quake itself had been reported, said South Carolina Emergency Management Division spokesman Derrec Becker.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley felt the earthquake at the governor’s mansion in Columbia. She asked the Department of Transportation to inspect bridges in the area at morning as a precaution, said her spokesman Doug Mayer.
Earthquakes aren’t unheard of in the region. A 4.3-magnitude earthquake happened in Georgia in August 1974 several miles west of Friday’s quake. Three others of similar magnitude have been felt in South Carolina in the past 40 years, according to the USGS.
The largest earthquake ever recorded on the East Coast was a 7.3-magnitude quake near Charleston in August 1886 that killed at least 60 people.