The event, which registered a 2.1 magnitude on the Richter scale, occurred at 9:26 p.m. and was located near Columbia and Appling-Harlem roads, Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker said.
The temblor was not listed on national earthquake monitors, but was confirmed by a seismologist at Savannah River Site, she said.
“This would explain the loud boom and shaking that many residents felt,” she said.
Earthquakes occur periodically in the area, which lies along the fall line, where the Coastal Plains and Piedmont regions meet.
For decades, scientists have monitored the region around the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ earth-and-concrete Thurmond Dam for seismic activity, which has included dozens of small quakes.
According to the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo., Thurmond Lake is one of the major earthquake centers in Georgia and South Carolina, where pressure changes caused by water in reservoirs can promote seismic movement.
The largest recent quake in the lake area occurred in Lincoln County on Aug. 2, 1974, and registered 4.2. Three other quakes were recorded in nearby Edgefield County, S.C., in 1996, measuring 2.5, 2.3 and 2.2.
Experts say Augusta is unlikely to experience a serious quake.