Small Earthquakes Shake Midwest

December 21, 2009

A small earthquake was felt recently in four states along the New Madrid fault line. Another quake was recorded in southeast Nebraska.

No damage was reported, but the small earthquake centered along the New Madrid fault line in southeast Missouri rumbled parts of four states. The magnitude 3.1 quake happened at 5:38 a.m. Dec. 18 along the New Madrid fault line and was centered about nine miles south of New Madrid, Mo., not far from the Tennessee and Kentucky state lines. The quake was also felt in Arkansas.

KFVS-TV in Cape Girardeau reported that people called the newsroom saying they felt a strong jolt at their homes.

Earthquakes in 1811 and 1812 along the New Madrid fault were so strong they could be felt in New England, and reportedly caused the Mississippi River to flow backward. Many experts believe another major quake will eventually occur along the fault line.

The minor earthquake that rattled southeast Nebraska on Dec. 16 apparently caused little damage and no injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the 3.5 magnitude quake struck at 8:53 p.m. and was centered two miles north-northwest of Auburn.

Nemaha County authorities reported no injuries.

The quake was felt by people in several nearby Nebraska towns, including Peru, Nebraska City, and Dunbar. It also was felt across the Missouri River in Hamburg, Iowa; and Rock Port, Mo.

Though not known for its earthquakes, Nebraska has experienced several notable shakes since its founding as a state in 1867. The USGS says the most serious of them was a magnitude 5.1 quake on Nov. 15, 1877, in the east-central part of the state. No fatalities were reported, however.

USGS earthquake page:

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