Summerville earthquakes foreshadowing 'the big one'

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - It's business as usual for Amy Williams at her pet grooming salon she operates out of her home. Haircuts for dogs and cats, shampoo and earthquakes are all apart of a days work for her in Summerville.

"The last two that we've had, I've actually heard a growling sound or a rumbling sound before I felt any shaking," says Williams.

She says the shaking isn't bad but the frequency is getting worse.

"They're so quick and fast and mild that it seems like you imagined it," says Williams. "All the sudden I'm like, 'I think we had an earthquake.'"

Six earthquakes of magnitude 2.6 or less have registered in the Summerville area in the last three months and Dr. Erin Beutel, Associate geology professor at the College of Charleston, says the shaking there isn't new, but it shouldn't be taken lightly either.

"Small earthquakes tell us the fault is still active and we have to be worried," says Beutel.

The geology professor is waiting and watching the Lowcountry very closely because small quakes tell a bigger story about what's happening under ground.

"It's big pressure because it's building to create the big earthquake but as it builds to create a big earthquake, it is also releasing a little bit of pressure," says Beutel. "Are we expecting the big one? Yes. When are we expecting the big one? We don't really know but statistics say 400 to 500 years after the last one."

The last big one was 126 years ago. Dubbed the Great Earthquake of 1886 that crippled Charleston with a 7.3 magnitude shake.

Williams says it's the big one that she's worried about.

"It's just scary to think you could lose everything that you worked for in just a short amount of time," she says. "It does make you wonder if anything bigger or worse is coming along."

The six earthquakes that were triggered in Summerville over the last 90 days ranged in magnitude from 1.4 to 2.6.

Beutel says the frequency of the quakes in the area isn't rare. Over the same time span in 2003, the Summerville area recorded nine quakes.

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