When it comes to areas in the United States with high amounts of seismic activity, California and the western portion of the United States are typically the areas that come to mind. For the most part, people are right in thinking that this part of the country is where the likely “big one” will happen. Aside from this part of America, the New Madrid Seismic Zone, in the central part of the United States, is an earthquake area that needs to be put in the same earthquake conversation as California.
The New Madrid Seismic Zone stretches for 150-miles and lays in wait in New Madrid Missouri. If a large earthquake were to happen there, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi would be affected. A large seismic event from New Madrid could cause tens of thousands to die and the economic impact could reach into the billions of dollars. The last time a major earthquake occurred in the New Madrid Seismic Zone was in 1811 and 1812. The strength of these quakes ranged from 7.0 to 7.7. The earthquakes were so strong that the Mississippi River was diverted. James Wilkinson, the director of the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium, speaks about what could happen to the Mississippi River if another powerful earthquake happened in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
“The thing that, to me, makes the river scary is how much industry we have along it: there’s power plants, there’s chemical plants, there’s ports. And the river might change course altogether. I mean if we’re at flood stage, it’s kind of the worst-of-the-worst case scenario.”
“I doubt it’s going to stay in the channel it’s in. The Army Corps of Engineers battles that on a daily basis but the river’s already trying to change course. They keep it somewhat channeled, but in a massive earthquake we could lose a good part of Western Kentucky, we could lose a good part of Arkansas or southern Missouri. We’ve had earthquakes, we’ve had damage, but nothing like what we’ve seen in other parts of the world. So the clock’s ticking.”
How Should You Prepare If You Live In An Earthquake Zone?
- Make it a habit to learn building evacuation plans for buildings that you spent a lot of time in.
- Since electricity will likely go out during an earthquake, be sure to have a working flashlight next to your bed and have extra ones spread out into easily accessible areas in your home. DO NOT USE CANDLES since a gas leak could occur after an earthquake.
- Earthquakes leave behind dangerous debris so it is important to have easy access to strong shoes so it makes it easier to leave for a safer place.
- Attach large pieces of furniture, such as bookcases, to the studs in your walls. Attaching can be done by using bolts or chain.
How To Protect Yourself When An Earthquake Hits.
- Get down on the floor and cover your head with your arms.
- Avoid being near to windows in order to avoid being injured from shattering glass.
- If you are driving, pull over until the shaking stops. If possible, avoid being close to power lines or stopping under a bridge.
Do you think that the New Madrid Seismic Zone will cause a catastrophic earthquake before the San Andreas fault does? Have you ever experienced an earthquake?
[Image Via YouTube]