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Earthquakes in Arkansas and Oklahoma

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I do emergency response work occasionally, and we did an exercise on the New Madrid Fault Line.  I did some research and the results shocked me.  This fault line effects about 5 states including AR, IN, KY,TN,MI.  It is capable of 8.0 quakes and this happens about every 200 years.  The last one was 1811 and 1812.  The really scary thing about this fault line is it is in the Mississippi River Valley.  The soil in this area is silt that is saturated with water and when a earthquake compresses the soil, it re-suspends the silt particles.  The result is soil that flows like water.  This will devastate foundations, bridges, and other structures.  I strongly advise people in this area to prepare, and to educate themselves on earthquake safety.  You need to know things like move away from water after an earthquake in case a dam broke.  You need an evacuation plan that accepts the fact that a lot of bridges will be out, or in unsafe condition. 

I live in Norman Oklahoma, where it was centered (I live just few miles away from teh actual center).  Was pretty amazing, shook the house a good 15 seconds.  One picture fell off the wall, but otherwise was pretty minor.

1811-1812 New Madrid Event

Here's the link thingie:

Four major earthquakes were experienced beginning Dec. 16, 1811 and ending Feb. 7, 1812.  The Feb. 7th earthquake created Reelfoot Lake and caused the Mississippi to flow backwards, caused temporary waterfalls on the Mississippi River at Kentucky bend and actually caused waves that traveled upstream.

To put it in perspective, it was reported to ring church bells in Boston and topple chimneys in Maine.  My hometown and current city of residence of Louisville, KY will likely be wiped off the map when there is a recurrence of the 1811-1812 earthquakes.  Given it is impossible to traverse Louisville by water on the Ohio River without the McAlpine Locks, a recurrence of that event will effectively cut the Ohio in half as it pertains to barge transport.  This is the original reason that Louisville sprung up in the first place.  Steamboats would put in above or below the Falls of the Ohio respectively and unload passengers and cargo.  Those passengers and that cargo would then move to a point on the other side of the city to re-embark on riverboats to go farther.

I lived on the east side of Norman, I was asleep on the couch when it hit, I woke up and thought an explosion had happened. The first thing I did was go outside to look at the horizon to see if there was any smoke, when I saw none I turned on the tv to channel 9,that's when I knew it was an earthquack, the first one I had ever experienced.

A few folks around here, in an attempt to identify and easily blamed bogeyman, are pointing fingers at the oil and gas industry in this area. While the wells are pretty impressive, I really don't think (in my relatively uneducated opinion) that they're gonna touch off a major quake. If anything, if it *were* true, perhaps they're actually releasing small amounts of pressure that would slightly mitigate the next big one.
I'm in Central AR, and worked in the oilfields for a while, and I think the folks who believe I'm single-handedly destroying the Earth with my SUV and my wife's hair spray would have no qualms about jumping on the energy ban-wagon.


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