MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – We live in an area known as the New Madrid Seismic Zone, a region of poorly understood faults in the Earth’s crust that zigzag southwest-northeast through Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky. This area has seen thousands of quakes, some reshaping the land as we know it today.
A series of earthquakes took place between December 1811 and March 1812 and are considered some of the most powerful in the history of the contiguous United States. Magnitude estimates vary widely, largely because they rely on historical accounts and analyses of current landscape rather than data provided by modern seismic instruments.
This was all caused by what is known as a “fluvial tsunami”, causing the soil beneath the Mississippi River to rise, temporarily changing its course so that it flowed backward for several hours. In the end, some 3,000 to 5,000 square miles were visibly scarred with the effects.