The most powerful earthquakes in the history of the United States happened along the New Madrid Fault in 1811 and 1812. Those earthquakes were reportedly felt more than 1,000 miles away. Scientists assure us that one day we will once again see very powerful earthquakes along the New Madrid fault. It is only a question of when it will happen. Today, the New Madrid fault zone covers portions of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. However, a major earthquake of magnitude-8.0 or greater would likely have a dramatic effect all the way from the Great Lakes all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. When most Americans speak of the “big one”, they think of what may happen along the coast of California someday, but the truth is that a New Madrid earthquake could potentially do far more damage. So is there evidence that the New Madrid fault zone is waking up? Yes, there is. According to Bloomberg, there has been “a sixfold increase in the number of earthquakes that have shaken the central part of the U.S. from 2000 to 2011”. Much of that increase is being blamed on human activity such as mining, drilling and fracking. So could human activity aggravate the fault zone so much that it could set off a truly history-making earthquake at some point? Well, the potential is certainly there. That is why so many people are so concerned about the monster sinkholes that have appeared in the region in recent months. For example, a massive sinkhole down in Louisiana is now over 8 acres in size and it has forced hundreds of people to flee from their homes. You can see video of the Louisiana sinkhole right here. Over in Ohio, a giant sinkhole has suddenly formed that is more than 30 feet deep and that is the size of four football fields. That sinkhole caused part of State Route 516 to collapse and authorities say that it will likely be closed for many months. You can see video of the gigantic sinkhole in Ohio right here. Are these monster sinkholes an indication that major earth changes are coming along the New Madrid fault? Has reckless human activity awoken a sleeping giant that we should never have messed with?
The sinkhole down in Louisiana is of particular concern because it has been venting natural gas. A few days ago it reportedly “burped” which sounds kind of ominous. Could we see some kind of an “explosion” at some point?
Many of those living in the area may not be able to return to their homes for quite a long time. The following is from a recent Huffington Post article…
At the eight-acre, Bayou Corne sinkhole in Assumption Parish, owners of slab houses are waiting for methane-gas monitors to be installed in December. The sinkhole deepened in November and coughed up debris and hydrcarbons late in the month. Cypress trees fell into the gap. Residents are watching natural gas being flared from the site and are ventilating homes while bayous around them bubble.
But if human activity is capable of producing sinkholes that are 8 acres in size and capable of causing a “sixfold increase” in the number of earthquakes in the middle part of the country, is human activity also capable of setting off the New Madrid fault?
Sadly, even most Americans that are living in that part of the country don’t really understand how incredibly massive and how potentially destructive this fault zone actually is. The following is from a recent report from WREG in Memphis, Tennessee…
Many people don’t realize that north Alabama lies in the impact zone of the New Madrid fault line, a sleeping giant that is approximately twenty times larger than California’s famed San Andreas fault.
The biggest earthquake in U.S. history happened in the New Madrid seismic zone in 1812, and in just the last few weeks, activity along the fault line is starting to heat up.
If the earthquakes that happened along the New Madrid fault zone in 1811 and 1812 happened today, the devastation would be unimaginable. Back then, there were not that many people living in the area. But even so, the destruction was incredible…
Accounts of the 1812 quake vary since there were no measuring instruments at the time, but most geologists say evidence shows it was at least a magnitude 8 earthquake, and possibly a 9 or higher.
The shaking was so intense that church bells started ringing as far away as Boston and New York.
Chimneys toppled from the Deep South to Canada, and President James Madison was awoken by the violent shaking as he slept in the White House.
Eyewitnesses said it even caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards for a time.
Unfortunately, there are now indications that the fault zone is becoming more active as a recent Examiner article explained…
Tuesday evening, two shallow earthquakes, although small, were felt in Mt. Carmel, Ill. as well as five miles outside Edmond, Okla. Illinois had the largest at 3.6 magnitude, leaving Oklahoma with a smaller 2.9 magnitude quake as reported by the USGS.
The fact that both of these quakes were shallow and follow on the heels of Kentucky’s 4.3 just 10 days ago makes the questions begin to fly. Is the New Madrid waking up? Is it gearing up for ‘the big one’? When Ky. Experienced a 4.3 two weeks ago, it was felt across 10-12 states. Although it didn’t knock runners off their feet, it did alarm many. Knoxville was among the cities that felt the quake. The shaking was not minor in many areas, and it scared people as walls shook and many began to pray.
This is something that I have written about previously, and we all need to keep our eyes open for more reports about earthquakes in the middle part of the country. When the “big one” does finally hit the New Madrid fault zone, it will be one of the biggest news stories ever.
We are talking about a catastrophe that would be so immense that it would be hard to imagine. According to ABC News, a study by the Mid-America Earthquake Center found that in the event of a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault, “nearly 750,000 buildings would be damaged, 3,000 bridges would potentially collapse, 400,000 breaks and leaks to local pipelines and $300 billion in direct damage and $600 billion in indirect losses would occur.”
You can ready much more about the New Madrid fault right here.
All of this is even more frightening when you consider that there are 15 nuclear reactors along the New Madrid fault zone.
In the event that the “big one” strikes, we could be looking at Fukushima times 15.
We have been blessed to have avoided a major earthquake like that for so long in the middle part of the country, but there is no guarantee that the New Madrid fault zone will always be stable – especially considering how much it is being aggravated by man-made activity.
There are even some that believe that eventually we will see an earthquake of magnitude-9.0 or higher along the New Madrid fault. Such an earthquake could literally change the face of the entire continent. We are talking about an event that could potentially change the course of the Mississippi River and create bodies of water where none existed previously.
We seem to be moving into a time of increased seismic activity on the earth, and many scientists are convinced that the New Madrid Fault zone is definitely overdue for a major earthquake.
So will we see one in the coming years?
Feel free to post a comment with your opinion below…