By Katie Baker

Earthquakes don’t happen very often in Missouri. The last major earthquakes were in 1811 and 1812.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone is the most active seismic area in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. The NMSZ is located in southeastern Missouri, northeastern Arkansas, western Tennessee, western Kentucky and southern Illinois.

1811-1812 were the years that the New Madrid had its last major earthquake. It caused a lot of damage to buildings in several states, mostly to their chimneys and brick/stone work.

“Contemporary records indicated that due to the February 7, 1812 earthquake temporary waterfalls formed in the Mississippi river and a water wave travelled up river giving the appearance of the river “running backwards”.” said Chris Cramer

Cramer is a research professor at the University of Memphis. Cramer went further to explain what happened to the Mississippi River and cities by it after the earthquakes in 1811 and 1812. He also explain what would happen if an earthquake hit us today what would happen.

The next occurrence of major M7 earthquakes on the New Madrid seismic zone will cause similar effects as in 1811-1812 and cause much more damage and disruption because the population is much greater and the associated infrastructure is more extensive.” said Cramer. If an earthquake were to happen today it would be a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina was.   

It has been a while since the last major earthquake. How do we know what to do? Where to go? Some teens don’t know very much about earthquakes. Sophomore Cayley Berthot said “All I know about an earthquake is that you shake.” Since we live in the Midwest we get a lot of tornados and we know what to do if one were to happen.

“Be prepared in advance. Don’t assume it won’t happen to you. Have a plan in place at home which includes supplies” said Science teacher Lisa Boulden.  Stay calm is the best thing to do and get away from large objects. You would want to go to a stable structure and protect your head.

Some people don’t understand why California has more earthquakes than Missouri does. Boulden said “California has two major tectonic plates that are constantly in motion while the fault in eastern Missouri’s is a different type of fault and very small.”
We always need to be prepared for earthquakes you never know when one will hit.