New Madrid Seismic Zone Could Unleash Massive Midwest Earthquake
- Organization holds earthquake drills for Midwest
- New Madrid Seismic Zone has potential to kill over 80,000
- Memphis, St. Louis, could be wiped from map
- FEMA seems to ignore Fracking potential
- Does FEMA readily understand Fracking risks which have prompted the “safety programs”
What in the heck is going on? Is our world turned upside down? Kind of, but not really. Folks in the central United States, otherwise known as the Mississippi Valley, are being encouraged to prepare for catastrophic earthquakes. And while the fear may seem unfounded, science is actually speaking to the contrary. A new program called “Shake It Out” is encouraging mass participation in earthquake preparedness events from Ohio all the way down through the southern state of Louisiana.
This is going to be a deep dive and a bit complex in nature. We are talking about the New Madrid Seismic Zone, a potential catastrophic threat to the central United States, marked by a sudden urgency on the part of FEMA for residents in the region to prepare. Why now?
The Shake It Out event is drawing large annual turnouts, including both Indiana and Missouri boasting each a half a million participants, according to Shake It Out’s graphs. Overall, public schools dominant the participant totals, followed by colleges, prepper organizations, local businesses and healthcare workers. The states listed in the earthquake threat zone are, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee. Shake It Out has some pretty seri0us sponsors in FEMA and the Red Cross, among a number of others.
“Drop, Cover, & Hold On” is the prepper group’s core motto and teaching, which advises participants to look for headcover, such as the underneath of a desk, and hold on throughout the duration of the major earthquake event.
But why the Central United States? This is a region that’s been considered to reside on rather tame grounds. And it doesn’t have the modern earthquake history found on the west coast of the United States, particularly in California which has suffered through a number of large earthquake events over the past several decades.
Well, it comes down to two things, one of which they don’t seem to admit (more on that below).
New Madrid Seismic Zone Could Unleash Massive Midwest Earthquake
The New Madrid Seismic Zone is what they are basing the program around. And preppers, it is most certainly a serious and dangerous situation. The New Madrid Seismic zone stretches for 150 miles into five states. From Cairo, Illinois down through New Madrid, Missouri and then on into Arkansas. It also extends into parts of Tennessee. And there is worse news yet, the fault line offers up extremely shallow earthquakes. An earthquake prompted by the New Madrid Seismic Fault Line occurs at 3 and 15 miles depth. Shallow earthquakes equate to more violent shaking on the surface due to having much less insulation to absorb the seismic waves being thrust out from the earthquake’s epicenter. For reference, the Northridge earthquake that decimated Los Angeles occurred at a depth of 12 miles. The devastating Loma Prieta earthquake that destroyed San Fransisco in 1989 was 11 miles in depth. An earthquake at 3 miles depth would harness severely more impact.
This plate unleashed the 1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes. It has true potential. This fault line’s zone has produced four of our continent’s largest earthquakes ever. Some estimates have shown impacts surpassing 7.0.
The years of 1811 and 1812 were particularly active. A 7.5 struck the Arkansas area on December 16th, 1811. It impacted negligible structures, like many quakes of this day and age, modern industrialized structures weren’t as dense as they are today. On January 23rd of 1812, a 7.3 occurred in the region of New Madrid, Missouri.
Past impacts are buffered by the fact that our populations of both people and structures are enormously larger.
There have been more modern impacts, for example, a 5.5 earthquake in Illinois back in 1968. This caused building in Boston to sway (yep, all the way to Boston). The region averages one small earthquake per year but lots of small ones that can’t be detected by people.
The danger with New Madrid’s fault is that it impacts regions with way more distance than earthquakes on the west coast does.
Here’s a comparison damage map. This compares a 6 point (plus) earthquake in 1895 that occurs on the New Madrid Seismic Zone to the actual damage zone of the 1994 Northridge earthquake which sent damaging seismic waves throughout Los Angeles, California.
And for the Midwest, not only do they have to fear the larger earthquake damage zone they reside in, but they have to worry about how little they are prepared. The Shake It Out program offers a start, but the main issue will be that their infrastructure simply can’t support a massive quake. Smaller quakes, shallower earth-shaking, seismic waves traveling with energy across larger swaths of land, mean unprepared structures collapsing in more areas. It is truly a recipe for tectonic disaster.
New Madrid Fault Line | 86,000 Could Die
Unprepared people residing and working in unprepared structures offers a major earthquake in the region massive casualty and financial devastation potential. A November 2008 FEMA report said the New Madrid Seismic Zone could result in “the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States.” The damage would be spread across a great many states and it would be catastrophic. Water supplies and power grids would go down. This is why I always suggest looking at the best survival water filters because without water, you simply can’t survive for any extended periods of time. The city of Memphis could see 4,000 deaths resulting from a break in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
FEMA has funded a series of studies on the fault line, including one from 2009 where researchers from Virginia Tech teamed up with researchers from the University of Illinois. They found that a 7.7 earthquake would result in major and deadly damage in Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana. Memphis and St. Louis could be irreparably damaged. The report showed the potential for 86,000 casualties. Over 7 million people would be without modern utilities, which would likely result in many future deaths.
Oklahoma Already Experiencing “Fracking Earthquakes”
The FEMA reports and research, as well as the Shake It Out program that FEMA props up, only seem to focus on the New Madrid Fault Line’s potential as opposed to the fracking industry, which has been linked to a flurry of new earthquakes in the Oklahoma and Texas region. While New Madrid’s Fault Line is undoubtedly its own massive threat, fracking around the country has been proven to spark tectonic plate instability. This is because fracking works by injecting water into the plates, which lubes them up and supports instability throughout the crevices.
But fracking, of course, is big business. And I’m not taking sides in the issue. But I am curious as to why this preparedness activity doesn’t seem to acknowledge a very real and probable threat. In 2015, Oklahoma had over 900 earthquakes above 3.0 on the Richter scale. There were just a few in years prior to 2009.
Could it be that FEMA, a government agency, wants little to do with bringing more awareness to a potential crisis issue accelerated by the energy industry’s elite? Well, the Energy Industry isn’t beyond fracking directly into the New Madrid Seismic Zone. There have been applications to drill directly into the zone, inevitably shooting wastewater into a fault line that has the potential to destroy our nation.
There are some who feel it is already happening. Here is an example of a Midwest earthquake’s epicenter being just 100 feet from a fracking installment device.
Just a coincidence? That seems rather unlikely. So does FEMA avoid the discussion because they know it is coming? Are they realizing that fracking in the area of the New Madrid Fault Zone is likely to instigate one of the largest, most devastating “natural” disasters of our modern times?
Fracking began in the mid-90s, but its true scale was realized into the 2000s. How many central United States Shake It Up events occurred prior to Fracking? The New Madrid Seismic Zone is hardly a new threat. If we isolate that threat alone, sans the fracking, we realize that people in every modern generation have realized that this is a real, substantial threat. But it seems only recently has the government taken a more defined roll in instrumentally backing preparedness for earthquakes in the region.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.