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The earthquake potential of the New Madrid seismic zone

Martitia P. Tuttle, Eugene S. Schweig, John D. Sims, Robert H. Lafferty, Lorraine W. Wolf and Marion L. Haynes
The earthquake potential of the New Madrid seismic zone
Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (August 2002) 92 (6): 2080-2089


The fault system responsible for New Madrid seismicity has generated temporally clustered very large earthquakes in A.D. 900+ or -100 years and A.D. 1450+ or -150 years as well as in 1811-1812. Given the uncertainties in dating liquefaction features, the time between the past three New Madrid events may be as short as 200 years and as long as 800 years, with an average of 500 years. This advance in understanding the Late Holocene history of the New Madrid seismic zone and thus, the contemporary tectonic behavior of the associated fault system was made through studies of hundreds of earthquake-induced liquefaction features at more than 250 sites across the New Madrid region. We have found evidence that prehistoric sand blows, like those that formed during the 1811-1812 earthquakes, are probably compound structures resulting from multiple earthquakes closely clustered in time or earthquake sequences. From the spatial distribution and size of sand blows and their sedimentary units, we infer the source zones and estimate the magnitudes of earthquakes within each sequence and thereby characterize the detailed behavior of the fault system. It appears that fault rupture was complex and that the central branch of the seismic zone produced very large earthquakes during the A.D. 900 and A.D. 1450 events as well as in 1811-1812. On the basis of a minimum recurrence rate of 200 years, we are now entering the period during which the next 1811-1812-type event could occur.

ISSN: 0037-1106
EISSN: 1943-3573
Serial Title: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Serial Volume: 92
Serial Issue: 6
Title: The earthquake potential of the New Madrid seismic zone
Affiliation: M. Tuttle & Associates, Georgetown, ME, United States
Pages: 2080-2089
Published: 200208
Text Language: English
Publisher: Seismological Society of America, Berkeley, CA, United States
References: 39
Accession Number: 2003-010738
Categories: Seismology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. geol. sketch maps
N35°00'00" - N37°00'00", W91°00'00" - W89°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: U. S. Geological Survey, USA, United StatesJohn Sims & Associates, USA, United StatesMid-Continental Research Associates, USA, United StatesAuburn University, USA, United StatesArkansas Archeological Survey, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2018, American Geosciences Institute.
Update Code: 200304
Program Name: USGSOPNon-USGS publications with USGS authors
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