200 Years Ago Friday the Mississippi River Ran Backwards

new madrid earthquake artist rendering.jpg
A drawing shows a keel boat tossed by waves from the tremor. Despite the magnitude of the earthquakes, few people died because the population in the area was so sparse at the time.
Seismologists don't know for sure the magnitude of the earthquake that rocked Missouri at around 2:15 a.m. December 16.

Some believe the quake would have registered around 7.7 had anyone back then had a seismograph handy. Others say the tremor was the equivalent of 32 megatons of dynamite or roughly 2,500 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Nearly all scientists agree, though, that the earthquake was one of the most powerful (if not the most powerful) to strike America since European settlement.

And that first tremor (strong enough to jostle people out of bed as far away as New York City) was just the beginning. Five hours later the first aftershock, an estimated 7.0 magnitude quake, sent more shock waves across the nation. Another quake, estimated at 7.5 on the Richter scale, struck on January 23, 1812. A final aftershock on February 7 (estimated to be the same magnitude of the original earthquake) destroyed the town of New Madrid and knocked down homes in St. Louis.

Witnesses to the quakes reported that the tremors caused the Mississippi River to "rise like a great loaf of bread" with waves from the vibrations making it appear as though the water was running north.

Some geologists maintain that the New Madrid fault line in southeastern Missouri is long overdue for another series of earthquakes, measuring between 6 and 6.5 on the Richther scale. As recently as March 2010 the New Madrid fault produced a 3.7 magnitude earthquake that could be felt as far away as Alton, Illinois. 

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big one's coming
big one's coming

The next "big one" has me really worried.  I attended a US geological survey seminar about 3 years ago and someone in the audience asked the speaker what the impacts of a similar earthquake would be today.  His response was nothing short of terrifying.  He mentioned that damage from such a quake would be 5 to 10 times worse than Katrina and encompass an area 3 times as large.  In a region that was never developed with earthquakes in mind he mentioned every metro area within a 300 mile radius of the epicenter would be flattened....completely.  The death toll could be in hundreds of thousands or millions...especially if it occurred like the last one at night when everyone is asleep in their homes.  He mentioned such a disaster would potentially be the worst ever seen in US history.

I'm really worried that the local and federal government haven't given this any thought or if they have haven't prepared properly.  Such a disaster could wipe out the midwest, a region already experiencing economic hardship, and take many decades to recover from...if it ever did.


You're worried that the government hasn't given this any thought or prepared properly?What is it exactly that you want "them" to do?  If you did any research you would findthat there are many measures that have been taken by the "government" in this regard.


"Many measures" uh?  Would those be as similar or better than the measures they took in preparation for Katrina?  I think people rely on the government far to much when considering disaster preparation.  Prepare yourself and your family first.  Rely on government second.

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