Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Potential Earthquakes in Eastern US

Have you ever experienced the ground shaking from an earthquake?  Scientists are concerned that there is a potential for a major earthquake in the future of the Mississippi Valley.  This area is the New Madrid seismic zone. Severe ground shaking would occur in areas such as Memphis and St. Louis.  It has been brought to the media's attention because some scientists believe that the stress on the Earth in this zone has been decreased and therefore the zone is being shut down.

Source: USGS
The evidence for this predicted earthquake is based on decades of research in the area. They have found evidence from the geologic record and Global Positioning System (GPS) data.

In the years of 1811-1812, 3 major earthquakes were recorded of magnitudes 7.7, 7.5, and 7.7.  For more information on what these magnitudes mean click here.  These past earthquakes are a good indication that there will be more in the area.

Research shows that there will be large future earthquakes in the area and people should be prepared.  Building codes are required to help lessen the blow of a major earthquake on both public safety as well as potentially decreasing the economic strain in the region after an earthquake occurrs.  People need to be aware of this high potential hazard as well.
To gain more information you can read the following article: Earthquake Hazard in the New Madrid Seismic Zone


  1. I think I've heard the same is true in the Pacific Northwest, and that cities like Portland are going to be hit particularly hard because most of their buildings (especially schools) are old and will not fare well.

    What does it mean that the zone will be shut down?

  2. In a previous class I had to compare the difference between the 8.8 Chilean and 7.0 Haiti earthquakes. It's amazing how being prepared for an earthquake (with building/structure codes) can save so many lives!