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Abstract

The New Madrid seismic zone of the central Mississippi River valley is the most seismically active area of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Most noted for its very large earthquakes during the winter months of 1811–1812 and its earthquake recurrence interval of ∼500 years for the past 1200 years, concern about future damaging earthquakes requires continued appraisal of that threat. Although the magnitudes of these earthquakes continue to be debated, we do know that major landform changes occurred during the four major historical earthquakes—three main shocks and one very large aftershock. These changes include landslides along the Chickasaw Bluffs in western Kentucky and Tennessee, formation of Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee, subsidence of the sunklands of northeastern Arkansas, uplift of the Lake County uplift with its eastern boundary being the Reelfoot scarp in northwestern Tennessee and southwestern Kentucky, and extensive liquefaction in northeastern Arkansas, southeastern Missouri, and western Tennessee. In this field trip we will visit and discuss the Lake County uplift, Reelfoot scarp, Reelfoot Lake, the Chickasaw Bluffs and their underlying stratigraphy, and liquefaction deposits in northeastern Arkansas.

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