Will it or won't it?
This webmaster's read is that a New Madrid area quake with magnitude above seven (the "big one") happens every 500 years or so (2312 AD), although there's a 10% chance the big one could happen right now. A lesser but still potent quake, above magnitude six, is overdue. Such a quake didn't kill anyone when it struck near Charleston MO in 1895. Scientists can't measure the pressures on the fault.
Scientists are trying to measure the movement of bedrock by a few millimeters a year, the width of a bottle cap, several feet below mud. They aren't certain how meaningful the measurements are, in the middle of a tectonic plate | with freezing and thawing | not enough expensive data collection points. Forces that cause quakes in the middle of a tectonic plate are much less understood than those where the edges of two plates are rubbing together.
USGS and CERI, Memphis, are leaders in studying the fault, and saying there IS a threat. The journal "Nature" tends to quote those who say the New Madrid threat isn't so bad.
Nothing big has happened lately on the fault. There are a handful of little quakes each week, around New Madrid, mostly five miles underground. Local folks have become accustomed to the ones they feel, and treat it like a passing thunderstorm or a passing train. You can count on a barrage of media questions, next time a noticeable quake goes off, of "Is it starting up again?" No scientist can really answer that.
Here are news stories of their evolving attempts and conflicting conclusions. Some numbers and assumptions may be outdated. Research and scientific consensus is continually changing.
notsobad - Threat "significantly overestimated" -- April 1999 Northwestern Univ study: Seth Stein | + Mar 2007 good AP story contrasts Stein with other experts
Hazards overestimated? - long article by Seth Stein and others
Summary abstract of scientific article by Stein and others
nov1999 - "is indeed a threat, which contradicts the April study" -- Karl Mueller, Univ. of Colorado
june2005 - Strain is building: two monitoring stations on opposite sides of fault seems to move half an inch closer together. Other researchers skeptical.
Aligns with NM zone; 65-70 Million years ago
Olmsted fault (near Paducah)
Nah, it isn't moving much - St. Louis Post 2005
July 2005 - Debate over need for seismic building strength at St. Louis; river bridges strengthened The Reelfoot fault is building a pressure that could make it buckle again. Should St. Louis adopt strict building codes for a 1 in 500 year event, and do expensive retrofits? Anheuser Busch believes in preparation. This story has many good details.
On the rebound from the ice age. Eric Calais, Purdue, GPS.
Ground movement - 11 GPS monitors. Two millimeters per year, "give or take"
http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2006/12/madrid.html Stein, elaborated.
Stein says NM is dying -- maybe - MissouriNet
TRANSCRIPT: Eugene "Buddy" Schweig on CNN-Lou Dobbs, 2005 (near end of transcript)
Insurance Journal: Scientists disagree - 2007
Stanford Report, 2000, "threat all too real" - Kenner and Segall
Berkeley 2003: strain "not significantly greater than zero"
Powered by Show-Me.net