Abstract

We have investigated the interaction between large-scale plate driving forces, lithospheric structure, and the stresses induced by bending of the lithosphere as a result of glacial loading and unloading in the New Madrid seismic zone, eastern-central United States. The modeling shows that the removal of the Laurentide ice sheet that covered large parts of the northern United States until ca. 20 ka changed the stress field in the vicinity of New Madrid and caused seismic strain rates to increase by about three orders of magnitude. The modeling predicts that the high rate of seismic energy release observed during late Holocene time is likely to remain essentially unchanged for the next few thousand years.

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