Earthquake Rattles Midwestern Towns, Briefly Reverses Mississippi River

April 18, 2008 03:17 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A magnitude 5.2 earthquake rattled three Midwestern states, briefly reversing the flow of the Mississippi River.

30-Second Summary

No major injuries have been reported, but thousands of people were shaken in their beds as an earthquake and a few aftershocks hit part of the Midwest early Friday morning.

The 5.2 magnitude earthquake that rattled Illinois, Indiana and Ohio today is not uncommon. The region sits along the New Madrid fault system, named for a small Missouri town that in 1811 was the epicenter of three massive earthquakes felt over a period of months. Each quake was punctuated with untold numbers of aftershocks.

The quakes destroyed houses, submerged islands and even made the Mississippi briefly run backwards in some places. The destruction, as well as reports of a sulfurous odor permeating the air, terrified residents.
Nearly 20 years ago, climatologist Iben Browning predicted that a large earthquake would hit New Madrid in December 1990. News media descended on the quiet town, but nothing happened.

The town’s mayor at the time said he was grateful that Browning had raised awareness about New Madrid’s lack of preparation for such an event, even if it hadn’t happened.

Since most people assume earthquakes only happen in California, officials at the United States Geological Service and other agencies worry that the Midwest isn’t prepared if earthquakes like those in 1811 were to happen again today.

Headline Links: ‘Earthquake rattles Indiana this morning’

Historical Context: 1811-1812 earthquakes; 1990 false alarm

Related: Concerns about today

Reference: Midwest at risk for earthquakes


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