Talk:1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes

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Magnitude of the earthquake[edit]

There were no existing facilities in 1811 to accurately measure the magnitude of the New Madrid quake. The first seismic intensity ranking scales were not devised until after 1874, and the currently used Ricther scale was only adopted in 1935, I believe. The estimates of the New Madrid quake intensity are inferred from physical damage and from numerous witness accounts. I recall hearing anecdotes that this quake even rocked church bells in either Boston or New York (I forget which). Any quake that has affects life over 1000 miles away is very large. As an earthquake, it certainly affected the widest populated area of any in the U.S., even if it was only sparsely populated. When people say it is the largest "recorded" earthquake, they really mean the largest "witnessed" earthquake, -- however, the documentation is not the same sort of scientific record that we think of today. Based on its range of effect, if the stories from Boston and New York are to be believed, it certainly would seem to be the largest quake.

"largest earthquake ever recorded in the United States of America" while Good Friday Earthquake is "single most powerful earthquake in United States history"...?

I also don't understand this. The New Madrid earthquakes are estimated at 8, but the Good Friday Earthquake, and another on March 9, 1957 on the List of earthquakes, are both listed as being in Alaska and estimated at over 9. Could the "largest earthquake ever recorded..." have been a typo for "largest earthquake ever reported in the continental US" ?

It could be that "largest" is meant in the sense of "largest area affected", which seems rather difficult to quantify, but the article implies that this earthquake was felt over a huge area, while being at a lower intensity than some. --timc | Talk 20:59, 6 September 2005 (UTC)
Largest in the contiguous United States is what is meant by scientists.
Defiantly the largest by area. On the West Coast, the geology is different and the earthquake waves don't travel nearly as far. 65.167.146.130 (talk) 19:02, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
That's just hyperbole. The New Madrid quakes were big, probably bigger than 7.0 and less than 8.0 depending on your source, and that's a lot of uncertainty. There have been other big intraplate earthquakes in the contiguous US, including Charleston (S.C.) and the Hebgen Lake (Montana) earthquake, which was around a 7.5. I deleted the "biggest earthquake" claim from the article as an unprovable assertion. Geogene (talk) 00:00, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Date of the quake[edit]

The date on the list of earthquakes in the United States puts this earthquake on Dec 16, 1811 -- which is it?

Most sources seem to call all of the events, from December 16, 1811 (first major shock) to February 7, 1812 (last major shock), and including January 23 (another major shock), the New Madrid Earthquake. This article only calls the February 7th event the New Madrid Earthquake, which does not seem consistent with other sources. --Kevin Myers 14:27, July 17, 2005 (UTC)

Is there any uncertainty about the January 23 date? I'm just now examing a letter written by Jared Mansfield, Surveyor General of the U.S., from Cincinnati on January 24, in which he says there was a large shock that very morning (the 24th) after 8 a.m. Ishboyfay (talk) 22:40, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

How fast would earthquake waves travel? Could result in time discrepancy. 65.167.146.130 (talk) 19:04, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Sorry, but the Section "Tom Surin" is bizarre. First, December 16, 2011? Really? That's about nine months from now. And the January 2012 date? Finally, who or what is Tom surin and why isn't that explained or defined? Teo del Fuego —Preceding unsigned comment added by 174.16.159.8 (talk) 17:44, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Why is the title of this article "1812 New Madrid earthquake"? Wouldn't "1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquakes" be more appropriate? Smv1827 (talk) 04:31, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

Bad link[edit]

The link to http://earthquake.usgs.gov/bytopic/new_madrid.html is dead and I could not readily identify an exact replacement. Perhaps http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learning/topics.php?topicID=71&topic=New%20Madrid%20Seismic%20Zone could be used. Jim 22:49, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

Largest Quake?[edit]

The first argument ended with the statement that the New Madrid was the largest to hit the contigious United States. Wasn't the Cascadia Earthquake the largest to hit contigious U.S. ? --AirLiner 15:35, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

Looks like that one was off the coast. At least it looks that way form the picture in the article. Dalf | Talk 21:42, 26 September 2006 (UTC)
The Cascadia quake probably had an epicenter that was very close to the coast; by any reasonable definition of 'hit' it would have hit the USA (earthquake shaking, not just tsunami), and it was definitely of greater magnitude - what would usually be taken to mean 'larger' with respect to an earthquake. M0ffx (talk) 22:31, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
I think it's meant that it's the largest recorded in the contiguous US. Since no one was in the area to verify the Cascadia Earthquake (or at least no one who left a record), it doesn't really count. I'm certain there were even larger quakes to hit the US than the Cascadia at some point in the history of the continent, but they weren't recorded by anyone. -GamblinMonkey (talk) 17:05, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

Adding material from German article[edit]

The German Wikipedia article is more extensive than this one, so I've translated material from it for this article. Here's the original translation request from Wikipedia:German-English_translation_requests:

de:New Madrid Earthquake
  • Corresponding English-language article: New Madrid Earthquake
  • Status: Completed. Chonak 06:22, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Originally Requested by: --RobbyPrather 05:03, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
  • Other notes:

Chonak 06:22, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

April 2008 quake[edit]

Why is this mentioned in this article? It has, at the most, very little to do with the 1811-1812 event. I'm removing that in a couple of days unless there's a compelling reason why it should stay. Orpheus42 (talk) 21:18, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Support. Please do. Cheers Geologyguy (talk) 23:30, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

What is the length of the madrid fault in miles?[edit]

What is the length of the madrid fault in miles? What is the largest fault line in North America in miles? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 171.159.64.10 (talk) 17:01, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

The New Madrid is not a single fault, but a zone. The area with the greatest seismicity, as shown here], is about 100 miles long. The San Andreas Fault is more or less a single fault with associated faults, and is something like 750 miles long. The Denali Fault in Alaska is about the same length. Hope this helps. Cheers Geologyguy (talk) 17:13, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Proposals[edit]

I propose deletion of several sections on this page, including most of the sections related to geology, present-day earthquake potential, and disaster mitigation. I believe that's more appropriate for the New Madrid Seismic Zone page, and that this page about the 1811-1812 series should focus on that historical event almost exclusively....and go into deeper detail into historical issues and maybe geomorphology than the abstract of the event on NMSZ page. If we want to show that it's important for modern day disaster planning, a couple of sentences tagged on somewhere without its own section will probably be sufficient--but that should also be from a historical perspective. Geogene (talk) 05:09, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

I propose deletion of the Slave George Murder section. It is hardly worthy of an encyclopedic article on an historical earthquake. Perhaps it would fit a lot better in an article dealing with slavery or 19th century criminal justice. Teo del Fuego —Preceding unsigned comment added by 174.16.159.8 (talk) 07:21, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

No objections in three years, I'll do that. Also I'm concerned about this article following Jay Feldman's book too closely in outline. Geogene (talk) 19:04, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

Contradiction in article[edit]

The article states that the second quake "followed the first earthquake by thirteen hours", but the time given is only six hours later. --Rich Rostrom (Talk) 01:19, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

This page has been heavily vandalized. Geogene (talk) 23:52, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

New theory as to the cause of the quake[edit]

I thought the shepherding authors of this article would be interested in this: Purdue University, “New theory of why midcontinent faults produce earthquakes”. Greg L (talk) 19:54, 30 July 2010 (UTC)


I would like to add a new hypothesis: Recent findings suggest a meteor from a serial impact off the dust tail of Comet C/1811 F1 was the initial mechanism to cause the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812.

There is a central semi-circular depression in Northeastern Marshall County, Mississippi which every hill in the valley emanates out from in a shockwave pattern. On the northwest face numerous unusual rocks were found with all aspects of impactites: http://koolkreations.wix.com/kalopins-legacy "1811 A Comet and A Quake","wix","documents and links",and please read the article entitled "A Few Comments on 1811". "Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America", Chapter 14, by Alexander von Humboldt, a Prussian explorer who kept excellent accounts of the many catastrophes caused by the close passing of a comet... Kalopin 7/31/13 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kalopin (talkcontribs) 16:42, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

Origin of the Missouri Bootheel[edit]

Yesterday I watched on History Channel a piece on why the states are shaped the way they are. They stated that because of the quake a land speculator (name escapes me) was able to purchase up large parts of the area for cheap (people did not want to live there any longer), and that when the State of Missouri came up for statehood he was therafter able to use his influence in the halls of Congress to get the area annexed to Missouri, as he felt that the confluence of the Mississippi River and Missouri River at St. Louis, Missouri would give the new State of Missouri more power. I don't have any other source for this, bbut it is part of the bigger picture, and would seem to deserve mention. 7&6=thirteen () 19:13, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

See John Hardeman Walker

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hardeman_Walker

yes he did buy up land after the earthquake, but he wanted prosperity for his farms ,and didn't want to be cut out from

state lists, and state help,  and didn't want to Madrid to be cut off.


121.216.67.189 (talk) 07:08, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

Dead link[edit]

During several automated bot runs the following external link was found to be unavailable. Please check if the link is in fact down and fix or remove it in that case!

--JeffGBot (talk) 22:33, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

This one has been replaced with a functional link. Dawnseeker2000 23:55, 25 February 2012 (UTC)

Dead link 2[edit]

During several automated bot runs the following external link was found to be unavailable. Please check if the link is in fact down and fix or remove it in that case!

--JeffGBot (talk) 22:33, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Article title[edit]

I've moved this article to the original title (with the format that includes the year) because it's the standard style for earthquake articles. Including the year is not meant as a true form of disambiguation, but is a standard way to refer to historical events. If the disambiguation-based reasoning (that was given for the move to the current title) were to be applied to the rest of our earthquake articles, there would be a large amount of work to be done, and I don't think that would be a move in the right direction. Small earthquakes occur around the New Madrid area on a regular basis and there is always potential for a repeat article-worthy event. Dawnseeker2000 02:38, 3 May 2013 (UTC)