New Madrid fault earthquake could cause ‘all hell to break loose’ across Middle America

Seismic zones are one of the most unpredictably deadly things on the planet. They can lay idle for centuries, and you never know when they’ll wake up & shake everything to smithereens. In fact, you can’t even tell if one is there unless it does that. And the New Madrid Fault is no exception.


The New Madrid Fault is a 150-mile (240 km) long seismic zone, which extends into five states, stretches southward from Cairo, Illinois; through Hayti, Caruthersville and New Madrid in Missouri; through Blytheville into Marked Tree in Arkansas. It also covers a part of West Tennessee, near Reelfoot Lake, extending southeast into Dyersburg.

new madrid fault earthquake Map

History of Destruction:

The New Madrid Fault has caused four of the largest earthquakes in the history of the United States.

The first one on record was on December 25, 1699. Although no reports of death toll due this quake were found and the magnitude was also not measured due to lack of proper technology in those times, but it is assumed to be a pretty big one.

The second earthquake occurred on December 16, 1811, at local time 02:15 am. It had a magnitude of 7.5 and its epicenter was in the northwest of Arkansas. The ground shook so much that the water of Mississippi started flowing upstream, giving viewers the impression that the river was flowing backward.

The third earthquake took place on January 23rd, 1812. It had a magnitude of 7.3, and it originated from its epicenter situated around New Madrid itself.

The biggest earthquake caused by the New Madrid Fault happened on February 7, 1812. It had a magnitude of 7.5, and its epicenter was located in New Madrid, Missouri. The earthquake destroyed the town of New Madrid.

new madrid fault earthquake

Present Condition:

The New Madrid Fault has been silent for almost two centuries now. Except for a few little shakes from time to time, no major earthquake has been caused by the seismic zone in the past 200 years. That could be a relief, but an alarming sign at the same time as it can wake up and shake up at any moment now.

new madrid fault earthquake

Even experts agree to that. Jeff Briggs, who works with the Missouri Emergency Management Agency says, “The New Madrid seismic zone, which is centered down in the boot heel of Missouri, generates more than 200 earthquakes a year,” Briggs said. “A lot of those are too small to be felt, but it does show that it’s an active seismic zone.”

Well, that’s the thing about earthquakes. You never know when or where it’s going to hit.

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