Temblor rattles New Madrid earthquake zone in Missouri

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 21, 2012 2:43 PM
Temblor rattles New Madrid earthquake zone in Missouri

By Bruce Olsen

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - A small earthquake centered in the New Madrid Seismic Zone in southeastern Missouri was felt in several states in the Midwest early on Tuesday but no damage or injuries were reported, authorities said.

The 4.0 magnitude quake was centered about 9 miles east-southeast of Sikeston, Missouri, and hit at 3.58 a.m. Central Time, U.S. Geological Survey spokesman Don Blakeman said.

Officials said people in several states, including Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Indiana and Kentucky, reported minor rattling of dishes and slight swaying of buildings.

The New Madrid fault sees "many, many" small quakes in the 2.0 to 3.0 range but the 4.0 quakes, "while not usual are not out of the ordinary," Blakeman added.

The New Madrid zone is a 150-mile stretch of land between Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis that crosses parts of the six states where the quake was felt.

The most famous New Madrid quakes came from December 1811 to February 1812. The town of New Madrid on the Mississippi River was destroyed by the last quake that was estimated at a 8.0 magnitude and reportedly caused church bells to ring as far away as Boston.

The biggest quake in the fault zone since then was in 1895 centered in Charleston, Missouri, with a 6.6 magnitude that toppled chimneys in St. Louis and Memphis and caused heavy damage in Charleston.

The U.S. Geological Survey said it had heard from nearly 300 people on Tuesday who reported feeling the early-morning quake.

(Reporting by Bruce Olson; Editing by Peter Bohan)