Andrea's Corner: Earthquakes-A Whole Lot of Shakin Goin On!


      Here of late there have been a lot of earthquakes going on. All you have to do is look at one of those Earthquake apps or the news to see that.  California and Alaska seem to be constantly shaking. I myself live near the New Madrid fault line and have lived on it most of my life. Here we have been having small quakes, just about 2 hours north of me, daily for a few weeks. And it is a pretty active fault most of the time, thankfully not releasing another big one. Like I said, I grew up on the New Madrid Fault line and I am about as familiar with earthquake safety as I am tornado safety. In Southeast Missouri, there’s 2 things kids are taught from an early age, tornadoes and earthquakes. Tornado drills quite often and field trips to the earthquake museum in New Madrid, Missouri to gaze into the Plexiglas enclosure that houses a model of a home,trees,cars sitting on the same sand like ground that S.E.,Missouri sits on and a button that sets off the reaction that shows the terrifying reality that if we have another “big one” earthquake, the ground will become liquid and suck down you and your house, just like the little house model inside the case. That’s comforting, as is your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents having an axe/chainsaw in the house “just in case” they have to cut their way out of the roof to escape.

Earthquake, sinkhole,California, Florida

Let me give you a review. One December 16, 1811 2:15 a.m. at, the United States experiences one of the most powerful earthquakes to ever hit, it was felt over 1 million square miles, and its epicenter was in North East, Arkansas. People were suddenly awakened out of their beds by the landscape rolling like waves of the ocean, a sound like loud thunder, sulfuric flashes coming up out of the earth, and the Mississippi River flowed backwards.5 hours later, it happened  again. January 23, 1812, it happened again and again on February 7, 1812. That’s not counting the dozens of small aftershocks. The old New Madrid, Missouri is at the bottom of the Mississippi river and the landscape of Southeast Missouri is dotted by sand blows. Sand blows are formed because the water table in Missouri is so close to the surface that when the earthquake happened it liquefied the ground and water and sand blew up out of the earth like a geyser.  So when you are looking at Southeast Missouri from the air, you’ll see dots of sand and dunes. My Grandpa has a sand blow on his farm and we've dug in it and found fossilized bones, bricks and old bottles, apparently the earthquake swallowed a house. Reelfoot Lake in North West Tennessee was formed by the earthquakes causing a rift and when the river flowed backwards in the Mississippi river it filled the lake up. It is now a bayou type area and is known for the abundance of wildlife and fishing.

Present day, there are constantly quakes occurring on the New Madrid fault line, it’s like a pin ball machine, pinging off different areas and town. Dyersburg to Ridgely, Ridgley to New Madrid, New Madrid to East Prairie and back again. There have been 112 earthquakes on the New Madrid fault line since March of 2013. The latest just a few days ago on August 28, 2013, a 1.9 in Tiptonville, TN. Two other areas also experiencing a large amount of quakes are California and Alaska. In California there have been 81 earthquakes just since the 23rd day of August, in the last Seven days. Alaska has had 174 in the last THREE DAYS! The largest being a 5.7.

I said all that to say this, people in this area and I’m sure in other high quake zone areas wonder is, “Is the big one coming?” and “are all these small ones going to trigger a bigger one?”  I think that’s a pretty good question. I've heard that, no, the smaller ones won’t trigger a bigger one, some people wonder are the smaller ones “letting off steam” so to speak, or is it a foreboding distant rumbling. First off, they can give us a percentage chance of us having another “big one” but like tornadoes, you can’t really predict them with absolute certainty. The chance is only a 7 to 10 percent, that doesn't seem like much, but yet people still live in concern of it happening. I read an article recently, mainly discussing the Japan earthquake but it raised the question. Can one quake trigger another on another fault line? And they believe, yes it can. The theory they are now testing is that one quake can push energy off into another fault line, and displacing tectonic plates making it more likely that a quake will go off. That theory makes you wonder if that’s what happened in New Madrid 202 years ago.

On March 11, 2011 a 9.0 earthquake took place off the coast of Japan, causing structural damage followed by a tsunami that devastated the area and damaged nuclear reactors. It thankfully did not cause too much damage in Tokyo .So, I hope for the sake of Japan, that the theory doesn’t prove to be true, I interviewed a family friend who worked disaster relief in Japan followed the quake and tsunami and this is what he said, “In Japan it was the tsunami that followed, unannounced to the people, that did all the damage. After both, it is the overwhelming sense of total loos.Destruction as far as the eye can see. Very difficult for the average person to comprehend.”

If the theory proves to be true, there is a possibility of at least giving people some idea of their chances of having a quakes, even though the exact timing will still continue to elude.

Andrea McGhee-Lead Blogger Mr Twister