New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811

By: Connor Beath

The New Madrid earthquakes were dangerous earthquakes that although they didnt kill many people, they destroyed many homes and the damage was very expensive. However, the New Madrid earthquakes were special. They were special because they didnt occur on a fault line. Thus creating the question, what caused these earthquakes to happen in New Madrid, Missouri.

What caused the earthquake?

"Some Earth scientists suggest that the faulting of the NMSZ is the result of an underground hot spot, a section of Earth’s upper mantle that up-wells to melt through the crust. Other scholars maintain that the weakening of Earth’s crust in this area was caused by down-cutting (or river incision) of the Mississippi River between 10,000 and 16,000 years ago. In 2006 Canadian Earth scientist Alessandro Forte proposed an alternate explanation: that movement along the fault was caused by local changes to the mantle flow beneath the NMSZ" (Rafferty). This quote shows that there was a hot spot underneath New Madrid, which lead to the earthquake. It is important the scientists know what caused the earthquake so they can prepare for future earthquakes like this to happen. Also, they can hopefully detect them easier.

How were the people and land affected?

People 190 miles away could feel the aftershocks of the earthquake. There were definitely some lives lost, but the number exactly is unknown. However, because most of the town and area around that was rural, there were not many lost lives. In addition, the Mississippi river flowed backwards for several hours. Many forests were destroyed and even an Indian village was flooded.

Is there a possibility of another earthquake in the future?

Scientists have studied the seismic waves since 1970 and they have created probabilities and what would be destroyed if an earthquake was to happen. So, people in and around New Madrid are preparing for the worst scenario and getting supplies in case of an earthquake. Although this doesn't directly answer the question of will there be another earthquake, it does answer that there is a chance of an earthquake in the future.


  • "New Madrid earthquakes of 1811–12." Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2016. Web. 5 Apr. 2016.
  • "Scientists discover mechanism behind 'strange' earthquakes." Space Daily 1 Sept. 2015. General OneFile. Web. 5 Apr. 2016.
  • "Welcome to an Engaged Community." New Madrid, MO. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2016.

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I like to swim and pet my cats! And other peoples cats! I am receiving my high school diploma from Ankeny Centennial High School in 4 years!!! Im really good at everything I do! But you can call me Connor BEAST because I am such a BEAST! Please follow me on Insta Twitter and VSCO!