Shake, Rattle and Roll
By Beverly Hicks Burch
Yes, Virginia it can happen here too…East of the Rockies and the Continental Divide. No, I’m not talking about snow or smog or urban crawl or Tex-Mex food or even finding a good can of green chilies to add to you favorite dish. I’m talking about earthquakes. It happened early this morning in of all places…southern Illinois!
I have been fascinated with earthquakes every since I was a young girl…I even considered entering the field of geology and Earth science…but, instead enter the field of stupefying my brain when I married the ex, Gomez…that’s another whole different story altogether. As I’ve told Tall & Handsome…I’ve been a closet geek most of my life. Now it just exhibits itself in blogging, computer gaming and other forms of geekdom…
I don’t remember if it was the story of the Big One in San Francisco or the article I read about the earthquake along the New Madrid (MO) fault in the early 1800’s, but after that, the fascination was set.
The New Madrid quake really was an epiphany…I saved the Reader’s Digest article for years. I guess because the quake happened so close to home…at least for a Southern gal. Not many people realize this, but between 1974 – 2003, Arkansas was #12 and Tennessee was #15 on the USGS list of Top 20 Earthquake States. That, I’m sure is in part to the New Madrid Fault which runs through the central United Stated and includes the states of Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri.
The New Madrid “Event” was a series of catastrophic earthquakes and aftershocks that hit the region of Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky during the late months of 1811 and the early months of 1812. These series of quakes were actually the largest quakes to ever hit the United States since European white man set foot on North America. They were two to three times greater than the 1964 Alaskan earthquake and 10 times stronger than the Great San Francisco Quake of 1906. To many of us that is unimaginable.
The magnitudes of these quakes were between 7.2 and 8.1 on the old scale, 9 or higher on the new scale. So, why wasn’t there more damage. Well, there was considerable damage…for the time and era. You have to take into consideration that the area was sparsely populated at the time. Nonetheless, there was great damage…natural and otherwise.
There were reports of church bells ringing in Boston and sidewalks cracking in Washington D.C. as a result of some of these quakes. Needless to say the shocks could be felt in surrounding states. Parts of St. Louis were damaged as were parts of the little town of New Madrid in Missouri.
The Mississippi River appeared to change course and flow upstream. The banks and configuration of the river changed because of the quake as the riverbanks caved in and the earth lifted up in places. New bends appeared in the river that had not been there prior to the quakes. It’s said that some lakes, most notably Reelfoot Lake was either created or enlarged by the quake.
The area was rocked by strong aftershocks for years afterwards. People from that time reported the earth would open up and they would cut trees down over the chasms that appeared just to be able to walk across the giant gashes in the ground.
This area remains active today and unlike California doesn’t get much publicity concerning earthquakes. What is known is that the area is over due for another major quake. This time large urban population areas could be involved…areas like Memphis, TN and St. Louis, MO and others.
The quake that happened this morning (2008 April 18th) in Illinois/Indiana has already been followed by an aftershock. Reports say it was felt in Kansas and as far south as Georgia. Now, I can’t say I felt the darn thing…but, I can tell you this…very early this morning Scooter AKA Watson was very unsettled. He spent a lot of time growling in a very low subdued voice for no apparent reason. Very out of character. It leaves me to wonder…just how much can animals sense…and DANG…how good is that dog’s hearing?!
© 2008 Beverly Hicks Burch All Right Reserved.