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General Information Product 118

Prepared in Cooperation with the National Park Service

Bicentennial of the 1811—1812 New Madrid Earthquake Sequence December 2011—2012

Thumbnail of and link to GIP 118 PDF (16.9 MB)

A series of earthquakes hit the New Madrid seismic zone of southeastern Missouri, northeastern Arkansas, and adjacent parts of Tennessee and Kentucky, in December 1811 to February 1812. Three earthquakes had a magnitude of 7.0 or greater. The first earthquake occurred December 16, 1811, at 2:15 a.m.; the second 9 a.m. on January 23, 1812; and the third on February 7, 1812, at 3:45 a.m. These three earthquakes were among the largest to strike North America since European settlement. The main shocks were followed by many hundreds of aftershocks that lasted for decades. Many of the aftershocks were major earthquakes themselves. The area that was strongly shaken by the three main shocks was 2–3 times as large as the strongly shaken area of the 1964 M9.2 Alaskan earthquake, and 10 times as large as that of the 1906 M7.8 San Francisco earthquake.

First posted December 15, 2010

For additional information contact:

USGS Geologic Hazards Science Center
Box 25046, MS-966
Denver, CO 80225

This report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Williams, R.A., Dart, R.L., and Volpi, C.M., 2010, Bicentennial of the 1811—1812 New Madrid earthquake sequence December 2011—2012: U.S. Geological Survey General Information Product 118, 1 p.

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