When most people think of earthquakes, they think “California.” We must remember that, relative to the age of the Earth, modern man has only occupied the North American continent for a short time. The New Madrid Fault, also called the New Madrid seismic zone, is actually a series of faults, or fractures, at a weak spot in the earth’s crust called the Reel foot Rift. It lies deep in the earth and cannot be seen from the surface. The fault line runs roughly 150 miles from Arkansas into Missouri and Illinois. Earthquakes that occur in the New Madrid Seismic Zone potentially threaten parts of eight American states: Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Mississippi.
The 1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes were an intense intra-plate earthquake series beginning with an initial earthquake of moment magnitude 7.5‑7.9 on December 16, 1811 followed by a moment magnitude 7.4 aftershock on the same day. Many New Mardid earthquakes have followed in the decades since, though not as severe as those.
Earthquakes are unique and dangerous threats to structures like homes and buildings because much of the damage is below-ground and involves foundations. Non-structural damage such as water damage from damaged plumbing is also common during and after earthquakes. Justin Hall is very experienced investigating and analyzing the extent of damages and has been called upon to offer his expertise on many occasions.