Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kentucky Earthquakes

You may have heard about the New Madrid Fault Line, which runs underneath this very region we occupy, my fellow Kentuckians.

Although not much of major seismic importance has occurred in our lifetime, we still must take note that in 1812, the New Madrid quake was an estimated 8.0 or greater. Described as "the most intense intraplate earthquake series to have occurred in the contiguous United States", it was powerful enough to make church bells ring in Boston.

A University of Kentucky website calls the Western Kentucky area "the most seismically active region in the United States east of the Rockies". And if that wasn't bad enough, to the East, we're bounded by the Southern Appalachian Seismic Zone, which is also extremely active and produces tremors that affects Kentucky greatly. We're surrounded.

  • July 27, 1980: Sharpsburg, in Bath County, was struck by an earthquake that measured 5.1 on the Richter scale. This quake put a huge deep crack across the back concrete patio of the my parents' home in Richmond.

  • June 6, 2003: an earthquake struck Bardwell, measuring 4.5 on the Richter Scale. Considerable damage was caused.

  • June 19, 2005: Blandville was hit by an earthquake of 2.7 magnitude. Blandville had also already been affected by the Bardwell quake two years prior.

  • September 2005: Sharpsburg was hit again with a 2.5 quake, 25 years after the 1980 incident.

  • January 02, 2006: an earthquake measuring 3.6 was recorded in Equality, Illinois (very close to the Kentucky-Illinois border). Shaking was felt in many neighboring Kentucky counties.

  • April 2008: The Kentucky-Indiana border at Evansville was hit by a 5.4 earthquake. The quake was powerful enough to shake skyscrapers in Chicago, 240 miles north of the epicenter, and in Indianapolis, about 160 miles northeast of the epicenter.

  • May 8, 2009: an earthquake measuring 2.3 was felt in Kentucky, at 36.92N 83.67W, approximately 20 miles North of Middlesboro and 35 miles Southwest of Hazard.

  • May 10, 2009: a 1.1 earthquake hit near Jellico, TN along the Kentucky border.

    Despite its strongest shocks having taken place a century ago, some say the New Madrid Fault is just getting warmed up because it's such a very young geological feature. Wikipedia says:

    Because uplift rates associated with large New Madrid earthquakes could not have occurred continuously over geological timescales without dramatically altering the local topography, studies have concluded that the seismic activity there cannot have gone on for longer than 64,000 years...

    JLK said...

    Within the past few months, there have been some minor earthquakes in Texas, of all places. It is a distinct possibility that these earthquakes are the result of the increased amount of natural gas drilling that it taking place in the Haynesville Shale area which comprises a good portion of northeastern Texas and northwestern Louisiana ... and if one were to draw a line from the area where these earthquakes have taken place, through the Haynesville Shale area, you would find it pointing right at the area of the recent New Madrid Fault Line quakes ...

    3thingsuneed said...

    I was in Maysville,Ky(Rectorville) during the earthquake on a visit from Florida. My relatives were sitting around the table in my parents home and you could hear the rumbling before,during and after.. it went through the rollings hills.. we all ran out of the 2 story country home. Very scary! Maysville now has a new Hospital because Hayswood had too many cracks to re-open, chimneys fell, Bank of Maysville front glass broke.. it was something o remember for sure!

    Anonymous said...

    What gets me is that people will argue up and down that we do NOT get earthquakes (floods, snow, tornadoes, etc) here in Kentucky. Are these people living under a rock or what? lol