Jennifer Rukavina with New Madrid Zone map - May 2010.
We reported that a recent study by the USGS said that the New Madrid Fault is still active. The new report contradicts an earlier study that opined that the New Madrid Fault was weakening. The report turns out to remarkably prescient.
On Sunday, a tremor measured at 2.6 on the Richter Scale hit the region. LaCenter in Ballard County was the epicenter of the quake. LaCenter is 15 miles from Paducah.
While 2.6 is not even worth mentioning in California, it's a matter of concern in a portion of the country that suffered the largest quake in American history a little over 200 years ago. The New Madrid Quake that began in 1812 was so large it rang bells in Baltimore and sent the Mississippi River running backward. Fortunately, population density was small at the time and loss of life was minimal. That would not be the case in 2014.
The 2.6 of this weekend is evidence that the New Madrid Zone is not dead, it's just been snoozing.
While West Coast earthquake zones are said to release energy with small quakes, reducing the chances of a major quake, there is not a consensus that the New Madrid Zone works that way. The geology of the region is very different.
In May 2010, Jennifer Rukavina, meteorologist at WPSD Channel 6 told a Clinton audience that there's a 7-10% chance of a 7+ earthquake along the New Madrid fault in the next fifty years. That's the prediction of geologists in Memphis studying the fault. Chances of a quake at 6 or below in the next 50 years? 25-40%.