n 1886, an intra-plate earthquake hit Charleston, South Carolina. This earthquake is recorded as the most powerful quake to hit the South East of the US because of the immense damage which it caused in this region. …
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Even though the quake lasted less than one minute, its implications on Charleston were significantly damaging to property and life.1 It is estimated that the earthquake resulted in the destruction of more than 2,000 structures and buildings. The value of the damages which the earthquake caused is approximated to be over $145 million. The loss of human life is estimated to be about 108 people. Some of the negative implications of the 1886 Charleston earthquake are observed even up to the present days.2 This paper gives a critical analysis of the Charleston quake of 1886 with illustrations of its consequence for the region at the time and of what it means to the modern political, social and economic systems. The physical damages that the earthquake caused in the Charleston region include the displacement of large portions of tracks and curvy formations in addition to longitudinal land movements. In the region, more than 75 km of rail lines were also destroyed. Geographic malformations such as fissuring and craters were formed extensively in the region.3 These malformations indicate the powerful nature of the earthquake. Therefore, both economic and social implications were felt as a result of the earthquake, as revealed by the deaths of people, displacement and destruction of infrastructure which served to support the economy within this region. The regions surrounding Charleston also felt the impact of the earthquake which was experienced even more than 60 miles away. Other sources reported that structures were damaged as far as in Kentucky, Ohio and Alabama which are located hundreds of miles away for the region of Charleston. Toward the Northern Side, reports showed that the quake was experienced in Boston and New Orleans to the West.4 The extensive nature of the earthquake is illustrated by its reach and the geographical scale that it was measured to have reached. The measurement of the quake was estimated to have reached up to 7.3 as revealed in the Richter scale. The soil liquefaction which characterized this earthquake was recorded along the affected areas. It is said that there are minor quake activities in this region which have been recorded and measured by geologists in order to determine the possibility of a major quake happening again and the implications that would result from it. The minor activities of quakes experienced in the Charleston area have been attributed to the aftershocks of the 1886 quake. This implies that the major Charleston quake is being experienced up to the present days through in a smaller scale. The damaging Charleston earthquake has been explained by geologists as a consequence of the faults and malformations which occurred when the Pangaea was breaking. However, some scientists argue that there were less significant earthquakes which were experienced in the Charleston region and they would be attributed to the severity of the 1886 earthquake and the extensive damage which resulted out of it.5 The implications of geological studies and investigations of earthquakes in the present times are related to the fact that the faults of the Pangaea breaking may have future consequences in other parts of America such as the Northern coast. Because of the high magnitude of the Charleston Earthquake of 1886, it is an area of extensive study and investigation. As an example of an intra-plate earthquake, scientists and geologists study the Charleston quake with an aim of predicting the possibility of future experiences of such quakes. As a result of these studies, geographic and political implications of earthquakes have increasingly become significant in America.6 The severity of the Charleston quake was demonstrated by the widespread ejection of sand along the epicentral region. Geologists say
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