ST LOUIS (LALATE) – The New Madrid Fault was unaffected by the Richmond, VA earthquake today, claim officials. The New Madrid Fault has the capacity to generate a quake that would span as far as New England. But the Richmond VA earthquake (maps below) of today August 23, 2011 had no impact on the dangerous New Madrid Fault.
The 1812 New Madrid, Missouri earthquake still dominates the record books for the strongest quake ever in the eastern United States. It was felt moderately across one million square miles. That is compared to the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake that reached only six thousand square miles.
The New Madrid quakes started in December 1811 and continued until February the next year. Soil liquefaction struck some parts of the country. Former Illinois Governor John Reynolds recounted his quake experience forty years later. “Our house cracked and quivered, so we were fearful it would fall to the ground. In the American Bottom many chimneys were thrown down, and the church bell in Cahokia sounded by the agitation of the building.”
Even decades later, aftershocks continued from the New Madrid Fault. “It is said the shock of an earthquake was felt in Kaskaskia in 1804, but I did not perceive it. The shocks continued for years in Illinois, and some have experienced it this year, 1855.”
Is this Fault still active today? A report issued to news two years ago found that the fault was not moving more than .2 millimeters. Active fault lines like the ones in California typically move 1.5 inches per year.
Yet, FEMA advised residents and the news in 2008 that the fault, aka New Madrid Seismic Zone, could still produce an earthquake in our generation. FEMA noted that such a quake could create the “the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States” and produce “widespread and catastrophic” damage.