Cause of historic New Madrid quake found

Mar 22, 2007

A Canadian-led study of major 1811-12 central U.S. earthquakes has identified a possible driving mechanism for intraplate seismicity.

The New Madrid Earthquake, the third in a series of large tremors at the time, was the largest quake recorded in the lower 48 United States. Records indicate it was felt over some 1 million square miles and destroyed about half of the southeastern Missouri town of New Madrid.

Legend has it that the Mississippi River flowed backward for a time as a result of the quake.

The earthquakes were unprecedented in the historical record within stable continental plate interiors. Researchers led by Alessandro Forte of the University of Quebec analyzed viscous flow models of the mantle based on high-resolution seismic tomography.

They found remnants of the ancient Farallon plate -- a slab of crust swallowed beneath the western North American continental margin nearly 70 million years ago -- continues to descend into the deep mantle under central North America -- possibly producing modern seismic hazards in the central Mississippi River Valley.

The research by Forte and Martin Moucha at the University of Quebec, Jerry Mitrovica of the University of Toronto, and Nathan Simmons and Stephen Grand of the Jackson School of Geological Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Quakes destroy or damage 83 houses in Philippines

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Protein glue shows potential for use with biomaterials

Aug 28, 2014

Researchers at the University of Milan in Italy have shown that a synthetic protein called AGMA1 has the potential to promote the adhesion of brain cells in a laboratory setting. This could prove helpful ...

Deep Alpine Fault sensitive to nearby earthquakes

Aug 25, 2014

(Phys.org) —Victoria University of Wellington researchers have discovered that seismic waves produced by earthquakes happening several hundred kilometres away trigger activity deep beneath the Alpine Fault.

Recommended for you

Kiribati leader visits Arctic on climate mission

Sep 20, 2014

Fearing that his Pacific island nation could be swallowed by a rising ocean, the president of Kiribati says a visit to the melting Arctic has helped him appreciate the scale of the threat.

NASA catches a weaker Edouard, headed toward Azores

Sep 19, 2014

NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the Atlantic Ocean and captured a picture of Tropical Storm Edouard as it continues to weaken. The National Hurricane Center expects Edouard to affect the western Azores ...

User comments : 0