The New Madrid Fault is still seismically active. Every day, the citizens near the fault can feel up to three earthquakes with a magnitude of 1.5- 2.0. It now shakes more than 150 times a year, many tremors from 3- 10 miles deep. The earthquakes from 1811 and 1812 may have been the worst ever recorded.
The first earthquake from New Madrid created new lakes and waterfalls near the Mississippi. It destroyed nearly 150,000 acres of forest, and even caused the Mississippi to flow backwards for several hours. Otto Nuttli, a scientist, said that nearly 60 miles of the fault were ruptured. During the months of December through February of 1811 and 1812, there were three more earthquakes following the December 16th quake.
There were two earthquakes on the 16th, one with a magnitude of 7.7 in Northern Arkansas, and another 6 hours later in Northeastern Arkansas with a magnitude of 7.0. On January 23, 1812, another earthquake hit, with a magnitude of 7.6, this time with an epicenter in the Missouri Boot heel. The last earthquake hit with a magnitude of 7.9, near New Madrid, Missouri. New Madrid was destroyed.
The fault near new Madrid shakes violently about every 500 years. The large earthquake is believed to be largely overdue. An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 or greater had a probability of 50 percent by the year 2000, and a 90 percent chance by 2040. If New Madrid were to shake like the 1811 and 1812 earthquake again, the devastation would be worse than Katrina.
The New Madrid fault is seismically active, and may shake again someday. Since the area wasn’t populated in 1811 and 1812, there wasn’t much destruction, but if or when it hits again, many will die, and thousands of acres will destroyed. (SW1)