Geological Survey Program

Earthquakes in Missouri

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Earthquakes occur in our state

Threat of Earthquakes Occurring in Central United States Still Alive – U.S. Geological Survey

Recent Earthquakes Missourians experience small earthquakes daily. This is especially true in southeast Missouri. The size of these earthquakes are in the range of magnitude 1.0 and 2.0 which means that they rarely are felt by humans; but they can be recorded on devices that measure the earth's movement. These earthquakes are evidence that a seismically active fault system is present in the southeastern portion of our state. This system is called the New Madrid Seismic Zone and it extends through a multi-state area. The movement along this fault system occurs thousands of feet below ground surface. However, because of both the extent and depth of this fault, it has the potential to cause damage and impacts across a large area of the central United States.  See a map of recent earthquakes.

Geologic studies indicate that large earthquakes occurred along the New Madrid Seismic Zone in approximately 300 AD, 900 AD, and 1400 AD. Most Missourians have heard of the more recent 1811-1812 flurry of quakes that were in the range of magnitude 7-8 and centered near New Madrid, Missouri. Because few people lived in Missouri in the early 1800s, impact to human life was minimal. The three major earthquakes in late 1811 and early 1812, however, did permanently change the course of the Mississippi River and created the Reelfoot Lake in the northwest corner of Tennessee.

Missourians should be aware of the reality of earthquake hazards in our state. However, we must also understand that an earthquake measuring as large as magnitude 10.5 as depicted in disEarthqukes in Missouri -- Click to Open PDFaster films, are probably only fiction. Some scientists predict that there is about a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 7-8 earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone in a 50 year time interval; which is a more realistic estimation of the size of a large earthquake that may occur in our state. The most valuable lesson we can learn from watching natural disaster movies is that knowledge and preparation are key. We should channel the energy associated with an increased awareness level into positive activities that will help prepare for actual earthquake risk associated with the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The Missouri Geological Survey has worked cooperatively with the U.S. Geological Survey for several decades to increase the knowledge base about earthquakes in the central United States.

M 1.0 or greater earthquakes in the New Madrid Seismic Zone 2000-2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Earthquake Exhibit at the New Madrid Historical Museum

Earthquake Exhibit at the New Madrid Historical Museum

Check out this new video tour of the earthquake exhibit at the New Madrid Historical Museum.  The museum is located at No. 1 South Main Street, in New Madrid, Mo.

 

 

 

 


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