I don’t know how things happen to be so timely, but Friday as I drove south from St. Louis to Memphis, I stopped at a Missouri welcome center and took time to really check out some resources on earthquakes and fault lines in the area. Saturday night, as I watched my Twitter and Facebook streams blow up, I thought through what I had leisurely taken in 36 hours earlier. Quakes and tremors like this can sometimes be viewed somewhat blasse on the West Coast but not in this part of the US.
Although we haven’t had a lot of earthquakes and tremors in my lifetime on the New Madrid Fault, it is good to remember that the fault is very active. The visitor’s center actually incorporated information on the faultlines into the flooring & benches. It was really cool. You may find this interesting:
THE FAULT IS ACTIVE, AVERAGING MORE THAN 200 MEASURED EVENTS per YEAR (1.0 or more on the Richter scale), about 20 per month. Tremors large enough to be felt (2.5 – 3.0 on the Richter scale) are noted annually. Every 18 months the fault releases a shock of 4.0 or more, capable of local minor damage. The most recent registering 4.3 along the New Madrid Fault on Thanksgiving evening, 1996, which was felt by citizens in the states of Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky, Illinois and Mississippi. Magnitudes of 5.0 or greater occurring about once per decade, can do significant damage, and be felt in several states.
If you want to know more about the earthquakes impacting the central US, I recommend a center that I used to live down the street from. The Center for Earthquake Research & Information at the University of Memphis offers information and maps of all the recent earthquakes in the central US and even provides earthquake preparedness tips!
And if you are driving south on 55 near New Madrid, I recommend you stop at the new visitor’s center. Its really pretty cool!