Plate Tectonics

New Madrid Earthquakes

Missouri has its share of earthquakes. In the early 1800s, a series of violent and strong earthquakes hit the town of New Madrid in eastern Missouri, near the Mississippi River. The New Madrid quakes were so strong that they changed the course of the Mississippi River. The New Madrid earthquakes were among the strongest earthquakes in the earth's history.

When was the great New Madrid Earthquake?

The first New Madrid Earthquake was on December 16, 1811 at about 2am. After that first initial New Madrid earthquake, more quakes hit New Madrid, Missouri over the next few months. The strongest earthquake hit New Madrid on February 7, 1812 destroying most of the small town of New Madrid. The earthquakes were sometimes collectively called the 1812 New Madrid earthquake.

What were the estimated losses in the New Madrid earthquake?

The estimated losses resulting from the 1812 New Madrid earthquake were quite small because New Madrid was a small, rural town of farming community and port city. The whole town was destroyed as log homes and barns collapsed and land cracked in the surface. The Mississippi River swallowed homes, ships and farmland.

Although there were people missing in the New Madrid earthquake, the death tolls were small since the population of the New Madrid town in 1812 was very small, estimated at about 400 residents. Today, New Madrid is still a small town but with many more people than in 1812.

How strong were the New Madrid earthquakes?

On December 16, 1811, the earthquake that hit the town of New Madrid MO measured 7.7 in magnitude earthquake barreled. On January 23, 1812, another 7.6 magnitude quake struck and followed by a 7.9 magnitude quake on February 7, 1812.

The New Madrid earthquake changed the course of the Mississippi River and flooded the town of New Madrid completely. The residents of New Madrid MO later re-built the town with a lot of outside help.