New Madrid Fault becomes active !!

25 10 2010

Click to view Chart

I noticed that there has been a marked increase in reported minor earthquakes along the New Madrid Fault in the last 2-3 weeks. I receive email reports each time a tremor is detected by the USGS. To see how much more activity there has been I tallied the email reports by month over the last 2-3 years. In October 2010 we see a sharp jump in the number of tremors detected by the USGS. (See update at foot of this post for latest information)

Recently a book was published indicating that the New Madrid fault is going dormant and will not pose a threat to those living along it. I am unsure how to interpret this recent spike in activity but it does not seem to be going dormant to me :-) On average 150 quakes are detected per year along this fault, few if any are ever felt since they are very minor tremors. The number of tremors has already exceeded this in October 2010 alone and the month has yet to come to an end!!

Is this the harbinger of things to come for the Midwest? Will we see a  repeat of the 1811 and 1812 quakes on this fault when the Mississippi river flowed backwards for 3 days and reelfoot lake was created.

About 12 years ago insurance companies removed earthquake protection from standard homeowner policies for middle Tennessee customers. Today one has to request the coverage and pay an additional premium to reinstate coverage. Even if you pay for the coverage there is typically a $50,000 deductible. Clearly the insurance actuaries are a little concerned a quake could occur soon. Lets hope and pray this is the fault line harmlessly releasing pressure – better to have hundreds of very small quakes rather than just one big one.

There is little discussion on the net regarding this increased activity. A lot of speculation like this, but no real scientific analysis or commentaries.

What do you think this means if anything?

Update: 2011-03-16

I’ve continued to monitor the earthquake activity on the New Madrid fault, activity dipped for a month or two December and January but has picked up again during February and March 2011. See latest chart below.

Click to enlarge chart