New Madrid Earthquake

Sarah Craig/Faces of Fracking / Flickr - CC

While scientists have gained a clearer understanding of what's causing recent earthquakes in the Great Plains, they haven't reached a point where people can let their guard down. That's according to Heather DeShon, associate professor and seismologist at Southern Methodist University.

"The earthquakes in Oklahoma and parts of Kansas ... have been linked to a process called wastewater injection," she says.

In that process, large volumes of salty, briny water are deposited into cavities in deep rock layers, says DeShon.

Jimmy Emerson, DVM / Flickr Creative Commons

Earthquakes in the Central U.S. have been steadily increasing due to oil production, gas extraction and disposal of wastewater. Seismologist Heather DeShon tells us if it is possible to mitigate the number of occurrences. Then, finding political common ground between parties. Mark Gerzon, president of the Mediators Foundation, explores cross-party cooperation in his most recent book, The Reunited States of America.

When you think of earthquakes, you think of California and Japan, but not usually southeast Missouri. As the most seismically active region of the country this side of the Rockies, maybe that should change. Experts say a big tremor's only a matter of time, and Kansas City needs to be ready with a helping hand when the shake-up happens.

Guests:

  • Mike Curry is the Jackson County emergency manager.
  • Jeff Fox is a reporter and business editor at The Examiner.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The last time the New Madrid fault really shook, Missouri wasn’t a state yet. It wasn’t even a territory. President James Madison was in the White House.

And he thought someone was trying to break in.

“When we had this event in 1811, it was strong enough to make the Mississippi River run backwards,” says Jackson County Emergency Manager Mike Curry. “It rang church bells in Boston, Massachusetts.”

The New Madrid Earthquake, 200 Years Later

Feb 6, 2012
Wikipedia, Public Domain

Two hundred years ago today, a massive earthquake the shook the country stretching from the Missouri Bootheel to as far away as Boston, where ground motion caused church bells to ring. Could it happen again?