Shortly before 11pm local time Wednesday night, an earthquake occurred along the New Madrid Fault Zone in far southeastern Missouri. The epicenter of the quake was near Steele, Missouri. Nearby cities include Blytheville, Arkansas and Hayti-Caruthersville, Missouri. The USGS reports it as a magnitude 4.0, occurring about 11 miles below the surface of the Earth.
KFVS-TV in nearby Cape Girardeau, Missouri reports it being felt as far away as Carbondale, Illinois. People on the station’s Facebook page report feeling the shaking as much as 100 miles from the center. No damage or injuries have been reported with this quake. Typically, earthquakes in this part of the world with a magnitude of 4.0 don’t do damage. However, earthquakes just a little stronger have been known to do minor damage within 25 miles of the epicenter.
The New Madrid Fault stretches along the Mississippi River from near St. Louis to Memphis.
The New Madrid seismic zone of southeast Missouri and adjacent States is the most seismically active in North America east of the Rockies. During the winter of 1811-1812 three very large earthquakes devastated the area and were felt throughout most of the Nation. They occurred a few weeks apart on December 16, January 23, and February 7. Hundreds of aftershocks, some severely damaging by themselves, continued for years. Prehistoric earthquakes similar in size to those of 1811-1812 occurred in the middle 1400’s and around 900 A.D. Strong, damaging earthquakes struck the southwestern end of the seismic zone near Marked Tree, Arkansas in 1843 (magnitude 6.3), and the northeastern end near Charleston, Missouri in 1895 (magnitude 6.6). Since 1900, moderately damaging earthquakes have struck the seismic zone every few decades. About twice a year people feel still smaller earthquakes that do not cause damage.
Earthquakes in the central and eastern U.S. are typically felt over a much broader region than in the western U.S. East of the Rockies, an earthquake can be felt over an area as much as ten times larger than a similar magnitude earthquake on the west coast.