Big quake might ravage U.S. Midwest

April 13, 2006

Some seismologists are reportedly concerned a major earthquake occurring in the middle of the nation might devastate the U.S. Midwest.

The New Madrid seismic zone -- where Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee meet -- is in the middle of the North American tectonic plate, National Geographic News reported Wednesday. The zone has three to five faults stretching about 120 miles.

Geophysicist Mark Zoback at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., has studied the New Madrid system for three decades and told NGN although major quakes have previously occurred in that area, modern cities in the New Madrid zone are not prepared for such an event and could be destroyed in a major earthquake.

Long-term records suggest large earthquakes have occurred infrequently in the New Madrid area during the last 65 million years -- approximately once every million years. But Zoback told NGN the short-term record suggests there have been at least two, and perhaps as many as four, magnitude 7 events during the last 2,000 years.

Zoback and his colleagues presented their findings in February, during a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: How to address environmental and social challenges in water management

Related Stories

Learning from past quakes

July 31, 2015

Computer simulations of ground shaking which replicates the historic, destructive 1811-1812 New Madrid seismic zone (NMSZ) earthquakes on the Tennessee-Missouri border suggest that future activity in the region could produce ...

Recommended for you

Cassini image mosaic: A farewell to Saturn

November 21, 2017

In a fitting farewell to the planet that had been its home for over 13 years, the Cassini spacecraft took one last, lingering look at Saturn and its splendid rings during the final leg of its journey and snapped a series ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.