Earthquakes in Missouri

For more information: 573-751-1010
Volume 37-040 For Immediate Release: Feb. 2, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, -- Missourians experience small earthquakes weekly.  This is especially true in southeast Missouri and to mark earthquake awareness month in Missouri, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the Missouri Seismic Safety Commission and others are partnering during the month of February to provide critical information to Missourians about earthquakes in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ).  

Geologists with the department's Division of Geology and Land Survey evaluate geologic hazards related to seismic activity and provides post-earthquake geologic support to SEMA, the Central United States Earthquake Consortium and the U.S. Geological Survey and others, to aid in emergency response efforts.

Joe Gillman, director of the department's Division of Geology and Land Survey and state geologist said, “Damages associated with earthquakes can be evaluated, but only after data collection and detailed mapping have been completed. Such data collection in support of the state’s geologic hazards mapping projects is ongoing by geologists in our Rolla office. Geological evidence indicates large earthquakes, like those of 1811-1812, are rare, however, more frequent, moderate size earthquakes can be catastrophic. Our geologists are actively conducting hazards mapping projects to better understand impacts from seismic events such as ground collapse, soils liquefaction, landslides and flooding.”

During Earthquake Awareness Month, the department will participate in a number of other public activities by providing scientific data about the New Madrid Seismic Zone, mapping for risk assessment, potential earthquake risk for citizens, as well as providing geologic information about the basics of earthquakes.

Missourians are encouraged to attend any of the following public events.  Other venues and activities may be added, so check the website (listed below) for additional information.

Additionally, the department will host school students to enlighten and educate about earthquakes in Missouri. The department participates in Earthquake Awareness Month activities yearly.

The NMSZ, in Missouri's Bootheel region, is the nation's most active seismic zone east of the Rocky Mountains. More than 200 small earthquakes occur in the zone each year. In 1811 and 1812, the NMSZ produced a series of earthquakes estimated at magnitude 7.0 or greater. One of the largest earthquakes in history was centered in the town of New Madrid on Feb. 7, 1812. Scientists believe it would have registered greater than magnitude 7.5.  Nearly 200 years of population growth in the region, which includes metropolitan areas such as St. Louis and Memphis, means that a repeat of the 1812 earthquake could cause considerably more damage. 

Visit the department's Division of Geology and Land Survey’s website for more information about earthquakes in Missouri: