April 18, 2008

Earthquakes? In Illinois? Mooo!

Quick: Where was the largest earthquake ever recorded in the Lower Forty-Eight? San Francisco? Nope. Los Angeles? Wrong again. Seattle? Well... no.

According to the USGS web site, of the 20 largest earthquakes ever recorded in the United States, twelve took place in Alaska. With one in Hawaii and another in the Cascadia subduction zone, that leaves just six for the Lower Forty-Eight. California is tied with another state with three of these large quakes. What's the other state? Washington? Oregon? Arizona? Nevada?

Missouri.

Go figure.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone is home to the two largest earthquakes ever recorded in the 48 contiguous US states. It's in an area where several states meet: Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Arkansas (and Indiana's not that far off). Not one of these states comes to mind when you think "the big one" (at least in terms of earthquakes; maybe in terms of eating contests). Yet in 1811, New Madrid was home to an 8.1 magnitude earthquake, and a year later another 8+. San Francisco's 7.8 quake in 1906 pales in comparison.

This all comes up because this morning, the New Madrid zone was home to a 5.2 magnitude quake (it actually was a little less than 200 miles from New Madrid).

5 comments:

writtenwyrdd said...
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writtenwyrdd said...

I worked for a seismic engineering company for a number of years, so this is not news to me. And living in New England with our not-so-seismically 'dead' granite, I know earthquakes are quite possible where I live-- land of the unreinforced brick masonry building. It's a frightening thought and the reason I couldn't allow myself to purchase that charming brick house, lol.

Merry Monteleone said...

I didn't feel a thing! I woke up yesterday and heard all about us having an earthquake, but I slept right through the damn thing.

Okay, now I have to page through and figure out your rhyming exercise... but from your profile, I'm with you on the beer and kids, not so much on the soccer, though... you'd think I'd like it, being Italian, but not so much... I'm much more a baseball person - and The Sting - fantastic movie!!!

pjd said...

WW, I remember the first time I heard of a 3.1 (or so) quake in Connecticut, and I was astonished. Earthquakes in Connecticut? Unheard of! Though I'm sure the unreinforced brick masonry in Maine is, um, pretty darned safe from earthquakes. For the most part.

Merry, you actually read my profile notes? Wow, too much time on your hands, eh? :-) Seriously, thanks for stopping by and I hope you like the rhymes. I originally google-mapped Belmont, IL and came up with Downers Grove, a suburb of Chicago, but then I realized it was Bellmont, IL, which is much farther south, in the New Madrid zone. I'm not surprised you didn't feel it.

Merry Monteleone said...

Oh Rhyming Times was something I planned to test out just to get a little poetic exercise... and to gear it for paid posting... just not enough time for all the little things that I think up to try.

Actually, a bunch of people up here did feel that last one - but it hit at like four in the morning and I don't wake up that easy. It's all anyone was talking about the next day.