Seismic hazard in the South Carolina coastal plain: 2002 update of the USGS national seismic hazard maps


The damaging 1886 moment magnitude ∼7 Charleston, South Carolina earthquake is indicative of the moderately likely earthquake activity along this portion of the Atlantic Coast. A recurrence of such an earthquake today would have serious consequences for the nation. The national seismic hazard maps produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provide a picture of the levels of seismic hazard across the nation based on the best and most current scientific information. The USGS national maps were updated in 2002 and will become part of the International Codes in 2006. In the past decade, improvements have occurred in the scientific understanding of the nature and character of earthquake activity and expected ground motions in the central and eastern U.S. The paper summarizes the new knowledge of expected earthquake locations, magnitudes, recurrence, and ground-motion decay with distance. New estimates of peak ground acceleration and 0.2 s and 1.0 s spectral acceleration are compared with those displayed in the 1996 national maps. The 2002 maps show increased seismic hazard in much of the coastal plain of South Carolina, but a decrease in long period (1 s and greater) hazard by up to 20% at distances of over 50 km from the Charleston earthquake zone. Although the national maps do not account for the effects of local or regional sediments, deep coastal-plain sediments can significally alter expected ground shaking, particularly at long period motions where it can be 100% higher than the national maps.

Publication Title

Solutions to Coastal Disasters 2005 - Proceedings of the Conference