Accurate estimation of the magnitudes of the 1811-1812 earthquakes is an important step in the assessment of earthquake hazard in the New Madrid seismic zone (NMSZ). Expert opinion on the magnitudes of these events has changed over time and currently varies from as low as M 7.4 to as high as M 8.1 (Johnston, 1996; Hough et al., 2000; Bakun and Hopper, 2002). Historic damage reports and “felt” accounts are the primary sources of information on the extent of the 1811-1812 earthquakes. The distant date of the events, lack of earthquake experience and knowledge, poorly...

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