Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Quake on the New Madrid

Since the New Madrid Fault lies close to my family's home origins in Arkansas, I'm always interested when things shake, rattle and roll down there.

KAIT has a good online report about the latest quake, centered roughly halfway between St. Louis and Memphis.

The San Andreas Fault out in California gets most of the attention because that's where most major quakes in the United States have happened in recent years. But the New Madrid pasted the country with the largest one on record in the lower 48 back in the early 1800s. It was estimated at 8.1 on the scale, causing the Mississippi River to flow backwards, creating Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee, and even reportedly making bells ring in Boston. In other words, it was a jim dandy.

The fault itself runs in a fairly straight line from southern Illinois to Marked Tree, Arkansas. There are numerous, smaller faults in the New Madrid system.

They don't think this particular quake is a precursor to a large one coming, although it is on the upper scale of the 200 some-odd quakes along the New Madrid every year. Even so, it got people's attention. And it should. A massive quake like 8.1 today in the Midwest and South would do horrendous damage due to the different kind of ground around here.

Food for thought.

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