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Earth Science

Midwestern Fault Zones Are Still Alive 115

Posted by samzenpus
from the waiting-for-the-big-one dept.
sciencehabit writes "The occasional quakes rattling the New Madrid Seismic Zone, a series of Midwestern faults named for a small town in the Missouri Bootheel, aren't aftershocks of the massive quakes that rocked our fledgling nation more than 2 centuries ago, a new study suggests. In other words, modern-day quakes are signs that the faults in the region are still accumulating stress—and sometimes releasing it as fresh rumblings."
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Midwestern Fault Zones Are Still Alive

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  • Oh, Frack (Score:4, Interesting)

    by postbigbang (761081) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @07:55PM (#46052129)

    Can't be all that juice pumped into the ground.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Can't be all that juice pumped into the ground.

      Well it could be. But you've just demonstrated the difference between faith and science. You have faith that fracking is bad and thus ascribe to it all manner of devilry. Meanwhile scientists collect and study the data, trying to eliminate theories, rather than just seizing onto one charismatic idea to cherish and hold as the One True Faith.

      • Have they eliminated the Area51-based top-secret earthquake generator yet?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Still have a few oil company shills lurking the influential threads of Slashdot, I see.

        • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @11:17PM (#46053323)

          Still have a few oil company shills lurking the influential threads of Slashdot, I see.

          There is a LOT of oil money from the Gulf trying to put a lid on Fracking. Nice to see the AC's are getting paid handsomely to try and stomp out independence from a barbaric region of the earth.

          • by whovian (107062)

            There is a LOT of oil money from the Gulf trying to put a lid on Fracking.

            I dunno if that's true across the board. Fracking releases natural gas, which can captured and sold. I've read one mention (perhaps it was an opinion piece?) that the 'oil companies' are hopeful for the Trans Pacific Partnership to create new export markets for natural gas, but the timing needs to happen rather fast before would-be importers get their domestic capabilities going.

            • It's not true across the board, it's true of middle eastern oil sources that see countries becoming far more independent due to fracking and see a cash cow dwindling. Doesn't change the fact that the anti-Fracking movement is HEAVILY funded by oil sources.

      • by flyneye (84093) on Friday January 24, 2014 @08:19AM (#46054977) Homepage

        Meanwhile, we are getting tremors here, where there used to be NO tremors and it all started when the Okies started fracking.
        What would you say that is? The Teletubbies having a party?
        It's fracking and frankly it needs to stop. The Okies are having the worst of it and want it to stop from what I see of their newscasts, but as usual, corporate interests are saying;" We'll look into this, after while, when we get time, if we remember."
        Well what a bunch of dumbshits. We just don't need the extra gas that fucking bad. If you think you do, go live in Oklahoma then blow off your fucking mouth.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      They where doing that in 1911-2? Wow, Fracking has been going on a LONG time then..

    • My geology is a little rusty, but I don't think any amount of human activity can "create" full fledged earthquakes. Some activities can encourage an already building earthquake to occur before it would naturally, but not create one from nothing or even enhance one that is building. In some cases this could actually be a plus, it would probably be preferable to have a few 6.0 quakes that you can roughly predict rather than one 8.5 quake that you don' t have a clue when it will occur.

      • Re:Oh, Frack (Score:4, Insightful)

        by postbigbang (761081) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @10:38PM (#46053165)

        Correlation doesn't equal causation.

        That said, there is a statistical incidence that wants to correlate heavy fracking with earthquakes. Whether the New Madrid is just unstable, or becoming unstabilized with mounting fracking is unknown. The statistical correlation between seismic movements and fracking remains, however.

        So turn on the tap, and light your cigar.

        • I lived in Indiana in 2008 when the 5.4 earthquake happened. It was in the wabash seismic area and there was no fraking going on at the time.

          Same with the Virginia earthquake. Again, no fraking was happening any where near a fault.

          • It's true Indiana doesn't have fracking; I believe the same is true of Virginia. Indiana doesn't quite lay on the New Madrid, rather it's to the S and W of Indiana-- look on a map.

            Is fracking a contributor? Some evidence says yes.

            • No, it's not on the new Madrid fault, it is on the wabash valley fault, which is somehow related, or so I read.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            I lived in Indiana in 2008 when the 5.4 earthquake happened. It was in the wabash seismic area and there was no fraking going on at the time.

            If you could please explain what that has to do with current seismicity while fracking is going on, that'd really be a help.

        • there is a statistical incidence that wants to correlate heavy fracking with earthquakes

          No, there is not. REAL studies produce no such link. Lots of luddite anti-Frackers like to claim it's so though.

          • Liar liar well on fire:

            http://features.blogs.fortune.... [cnn.com] http://crooksandliars.com/susi... [crooksandliars.com] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... [huffingtonpost.com] https://www.utexas.edu/news/20... [utexas.edu]

            • So obvious (Score:4, Informative)

              by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @11:40PM (#46053495)

              Liar liar well on fire:

              What are you, ten?

              So sad you can't even do basic Google searches, all of your links have been
              debunked [bloomberg.com].

              You really will believe anything your masters spoon-feed you, won't you? What a shame that critical thinking has been so totally disabled by the green movement, once you strong and useful, now just a tool to be used by Arab oil interests to stop franking from slowing down the money flow.

              I guess you have no interests in stopping the flow of money from the west going to prop up cultures that horribly abuse women and homosexuals. You may as well be casting stones yourself.

              • Re:So obvious (Score:4, Insightful)

                by postbigbang (761081) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @11:47PM (#46053547)

                Ends don't justify the means. You all but admit the monetary motivations. I don't justify the maltreatment of people anywhere. Not even in Texas.

                Nah, even those University of Texas resources can't be believed.

                Tell me this: are you an astroturfer? Do you get paid to shill for these guys? I'll take an honest answer. If you really believe this, I'll criticize no further.

                We're far from agreement on the issue of fracking, however. I believe it's detrimental, and holds down the inevitable transition to other less-caustic fuel sources.

                • by unixcorn (120825)

                  We are all shills for something. It seems you are a shill for some sort of environmental group. Do YOU get paid to post your opinions? Face it, nobody really knows what fracking is doing if anything at all.

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                So sad you can't even do basic Google searches, all of your links have been
                debunked.

                It's so sad that you can't even understand basic science. One study which disagrees does not automatically invalidate all other studies. Keep trying, you'll get it never. This is your second bullshit unfounded FUD post I've responded to in a row today.

      • I guess the earth effects of a 100Kt Nuke doesn't count then. How in hell do you think we detect underground testing other then through Seismic sensors?

        • Nuclear "earthquakes" are a hiccup compared to the real thing, the shaking only lasts a second or so and is only experienced in a comparatively small area. The 2011 Tohoku earthquake was equivalent to a 9,320 Gigaton explosion in terms of energy released and lasted about 6 minutes.

      • look at it this way if you have to "roll" 20 on D100 to prevent a Quake it doesn't help if you lose a couple or 3 points to "fracking" (especially if those points "stack" over time).

    • by fermion (181285)
      It is general considered, under current research, that the pumping of water, resulting from fracking or oil extraction, back into the ground does cause a load sufficient to trigger a fault. This is not faith. It is simply a hypothesis that seems to gaining evidence. Fracking itself does not seem to a antecedent to seismic events. In the case of Missouri, there does not seem to be any waste disposal, but calling this faith simply shows a inability to process new information.
      • No one is doing a lot of work to prove it one way or another. It's best to watch Justin Beiber get busted, rather than do any real research. Sign.

    • by trongey (21550)

      Can't be all that juice pumped into the ground.

      Can be, but you're looking at the wrong process. Overly aggressive wastewater injection is the more likely culprit.

  • The best thing that could happen to Midwest geography would be growing a mountain range... An east-west one, so that it'd be tolerable in winter, as long as you're south of it, and tolerable in summer, as long as you're north.

  • This segues nicely with a question I've been idly wondering.

    Consider all natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tornados, volcanoes, hurricanes, forest fires (kinda natural), tsunamis, mudslides, etc.

    Now consider all human safety factors, such as crimes of violence, unsafe nuclear/chemical plants, likelihood of being targeted/invaded by a foreign entity, random government oppression, and so on. And I suppose you should consider automobile fatality rates (which probably outweigh all other factors combined).

    • Your parent's basement. That's why so many geeks stay in there as long as they can.

    • Now where in the world would you say is the safest place to live?

      Prison.

      • by bobbied (2522392)
        Depends on what you are IN for... If you are an X-cop or a pedophile, you'd rather be next on death row...
        • by Anonymous Coward

          If you are an X-cop

          Those mutants, always finding their evil, unnatural ways to harm officers of the law! ;)

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Maybe central Canada somewhere?

      Nah, if the power went out for an extended period (or for good, if you are in a bad JJ Abrams show), you'd be screwed in the winter.

      But I guess it depends if you are talking apocalyptic events (or even major natural disasters) vs. everyday risks. Because you are so many orders of magnitude more likely to die from one of the latter that the former isn't worth worrying about unless you are the obsessive type.

      • by rueger (210566)
        Central Canada (ontario) has experienced three multi-day widespread power outages within recent memory - two of them during the winter.

        If a reliable and robust electricity grid is important to you you should look somewhere else.
    • Traffic accidents kill more people than natural disasters by orders of magnitude, and "lifestyle" diseases such as cancer and heart disease dwarf all else.

      Logically, the safest place to life is somewhere you are happy and able to stay physically active and don't have to drive much. If it happens to be earthquakey or spidery don't waste your time worrying because it'll be lost in the statistical noise.
      • by bobbied (2522392)

        If it happens to be earthquakey or spidery don't waste your time worrying because it'll be lost in the statistical noise.

        At least until buildings fall on top of you and thousands of your neighbors.

        It's like saying flying is safe. Yea, it is, but when there is a major incident and you are on board, chances are pretty good you are not walking away alive.

        • Precisely! Sure, when a plane crashes it is pretty dramatic. Makes the news every time. However, logically speaking for every person that dies in a plane crash or an earthquake many thousands die from things nobody freaks out about. People are so bad at identifying relevant risks and so "good" at fixating on irrelevant ones.
      • by HiThere (15173)

        The interesting thing is that recent archaeological investigations have tended to show that cancer and heart disease (what you cal "lifestyle diseases") were equally common in ancient egypt and (to the extent it's determinable, small sample, poor evidence) among paleolithic hunter-gatherers.

        The evidence isn't conclusive yet, but then neither is the evidence that they actually *are* lifestyle diseases. Remember when everyone was convinced that uncers where a disease caused by stress among middle managers?

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Traffic accidents kill more people than natural disasters by orders of magnitude, and "lifestyle" diseases such as cancer and heart disease dwarf all else.

        The problem is, admitting that traffic accidents are a major killer means that we have to admit the majority of people are terrible drivers. Then we'd have to look at why most people are terrible drivers...

        Well lets just say this has already been done, and the the results weren't good. It required most people to change their driving habits dramatically and it was a lot easier for them to just accept the deaths and hope they weren't amongst them whilst making up a revenue conspiracy to make ignoring the

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Portland, Oregon.

      • Yeah, cause Mt Hood, Mt Baker, Mt St. Helens or other area volanoes won't affect it. Neither will radiation leaks from the Hanford Nuclear Resveration upstream on the Columbia. No forest fires, or mudslides in the West hills, etc.

        Still, it is a great place. Now its time to go to Voodoo Doughnuts...
    • by turkeydance (1266624) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @09:21PM (#46052755)
      my home town. nothing happens here. ever.
      • by Zynder (2773551)
        Did you know that archaeologists found that exact same phrase (in Latin) carved on one the homes in Pompeii? :D
        • Yep. It read:

          HIC IN PATRIA MEA NIHIL UMQUAM FACTUM EST

          Incidentally, one of the most disturbing bits of bathroom graffiti I've ever read was at a classics library. I was in the stall and looked up to see, scribbled on the tiles, the following:

          Peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo et opere.
          Spiritus promptus est, caro autem infirma.

          I really and truly didn't want to know what had been done on that toilet before I'd arrived.

    • Up near Hudson Bay in Canada is a good candidate. That's where the Canadian Shield proto-continent is, mostly unaltered since Archaen times.

       

    • by Monsuco (998964)

      This segues nicely with a question I've been idly wondering.

      Consider all natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tornados, volcanoes, hurricanes, forest fires (kinda natural), tsunamis, mudslides, etc.

      Now consider all human safety factors, such as crimes of violence, unsafe nuclear/chemical plants, likelihood of being targeted/invaded by a foreign entity, random government oppression, and so on. And I suppose you should consider automobile fatality rates (which probably outweigh all other factors combined).

      Plus toss in random other safety factors such as poisonous insects/spiders/snakes, rising ocean levels, and whatnot.

      Now where in the world would you say is the safest place to live?

      Maybe central Canada somewhere?

      I'm just askin'. It't not like I live my life by these considerations (though I have shied away from Western North America a bit... ya know, 'cause o the big one [wikipedia.org]).

      In terms of natural disasters, Hawaii spends the least of any US state. Yes, there are hurricanes but they are very rare and, considering you have about 2 weeks warning, about the only reason anyone ever dies from a hurricane is that they won't (or occasionally can't) get the heck outta dodge. The Hawaiian volcanic activity is pretty much limited to non-violent "dribbling" eruptions from the big island's shield volcanoes. About the only way that could kill you is if you were dumb enough to walk across a la

    • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

      Santa Fe, NM.

      Extremely low natural disaster risk, low social risk, manageable strategic risk.

      But not having to deal with problems makes you weak and distorts your sense of risk tolerance.

      A high seismic activity area is only an issue if it is ill-prepared to deal with it. Frequency of seismic events is lower though, so you don't have the hazard profile of hurricanes, or the challenges of high variable weather (plus tornadoes) in the Midwest.

      Having grown up there, I figure there must be a reason they call MO

  • No kidding? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BenJeremy (181303) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @08:03PM (#46052191)

    Seriously, who writes this stuff? I remember a minor earthquake we had in Michigan in the mid-80s. Why would they suddenly stop? Geological activity occurs over geological time scales, which is to say, thousands, even millions of years.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Did you even read the summary, much less the article? There's a hypothesis that the current quakes are aftershocks from a major release of stress 200 years ago. The alternative is that the system is still actively releasing new stresses. Unless that "minor earthquake" you felt was in the 1780s, I don't think your experience of it has any bearing on the issue.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @08:09PM (#46052221)
    It's all y'all's fault.
    • by bobbied (2522392)
      Those from MO would ask you to show them why...
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Midwestern faults named for a small town in the Missouri Bootheel

      Need coffee. My first read resembled something lile: midwife's faults named for a small town in the Misere Brothel

      • by rts008 (812749)

        Skip the coffee, your version is much more interesting!

        I would be very interested in touring a brothel that was large enough to contain a town. :-)

    • by mjwx (966435) on Friday January 24, 2014 @02:40AM (#46054089)

      It's all y'all's fault.

      Y'all == singular
      All y'all == plural
      Y'all's == y'all need to go back to grammar school.

      • by Culture20 (968837)
        Colloquial plural possessive. Rephrased as "it is the fault of all y'all", but less funny since it seems less like I'm discussing a geological fault.
      • by Hillgiant (916436)

        Good grief.

        The "all" in this case is describing the extent of "fault", not the extent of "y'all". The test is if we replace "y'all" with some other noun. "It's all Fred's fault." Clearly we are not referring to some multitude of individuals as "all Fred", rather we are assigning all the fault to Fred.

        Similarly, it is not too much to expect that appending an apostrophe and "s" could create a possessive form of "y'all".

        Finally, there is the "you" (for second person singular), "y'all" (for second person plu

  • From the article ... "But some scientists don't find the team's results convincing."

    • Re:On the other hand (Score:4, Informative)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @08:24PM (#46052341) Homepage Journal

      From the article ... "But some scientists don't find the team's results convincing."

      There were 4 earthquakes along the New Madrid Fault in the 1811-1812 timeframe which ere commented to have rung church bells in Washington DC, as well as modified the course of the Mississippi River. Harder bedrock (unlike all this nice, soft sandstone in the west coast) mean the shock is felt much stronger and further. I think I'd cut them some slack. An 8.0 along the fault would make Loma Prieta (1989) and Northridge (1994) look like picnics.

      They should be considered sleeping or dormant, not inactive.

      • by jafac (1449)

        Also when you compare building codes. I don't think that Chicago, for instance, is not particularly vulnerable. But a lot of older structures near St. Louis are going to be completely leveled, because they don't have building codes to withstand earthquakes like they do in California.

        In an EQ near my home a few years ago, one major building collapsed. It was the one building in that town that had not yet been updated to new codes, and was unreinforced masonry. Killed two women, and they were the only fata

        • Re:On the other hand (Score:4, Informative)

          by jbengt (874751) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @10:30PM (#46053133)
          The current building code in St Louis is written with earthquakes in mind, it's ust that there are a lot of older buildings that are still vulnerable.
          • by ackthpt (218170)

            An earthquake in the midwest or eastern part of the country will be felt more strongly at greater distance. Shockwaves will be far more potent. I do not believe California standards for construction would save much if another 8.0 struck along New Madrid.

      • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

        Really comes down to ground acceleration. Northridge and Loma Prieta were 6.7 and 6.9; a modern 7.9 like the 1906 SF earthquake is a more reasonable comparison to what would happen in the Midwest with an ~8.0. Similar level of structural preparedness as well.

  • No doubt caused by global warming... I'm sure.
    • by bobbied (2522392)

      No it was the OZONE hole back in 1811... Get your history straight...

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Not in the way you mean. It's pretty warm down deep and we're floating on top of molten rock.
      If you put your petty luddite comment aside and want to find out a bit about the world instead of making fun of those that do then Simon Winchester's "A Crack at the Edge of the World" is an entertaining and informative book about earthquakes in North America by a travel writer with training as a geologist. The book describes the New Madrid earthquake but most of it is about setting up context for the San Francisc
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Any excuse to wave your dumb shittery around, eh?

    • No doubt caused by global warming... I'm sure.

      Everyone knows earthquakes are caused by evolutionism. Especially in the Midwest.

  • I'll never forget the Nova special on PBS about 10 years ago, "Welcome to Nashville, a city waiting to die."

    Seems that area, not California, is the site of the most powerful earthquake in recorded history. And with building codes nothing like California.

    • In the continental US, that is.

    • Re:Anyway (Score:5, Informative)

      by riverat1 (1048260) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @10:58PM (#46053231)

      I think the 1700 Cascadia earthquake [wikipedia.org] off the Oregon/Washington coast probably qualifies as the largest in recorded history in the continental US. It hit at about 9:00 pm, January 26, 1700 and was an estimated magnitude of 8.7-9.2. (The reason the time is known so accurately is that the tsunami it caused was recorded in Japanese records.)

    • by Rakarra (112805)

      I'll never forget the Nova special on PBS about 10 years ago, "Welcome to Nashville, a city waiting to die."

      Seems that area, not California, is the site of the most powerful earthquake in recorded history. And with building codes nothing like California.

      It is definitely the strongest recorded earthquake in the Eastern US. The power was estimated between 7.2 and 8.1, and Alaska alone has had five earthquakes that were stronger, most in the late 1950s and early 60 (Jesus...). California is known for its earthquakes, but it's true that the New Madrid quake was stronger than any of them. Well, depending on whether you believe the 7.2 or 8.1 number. :-D

      The building codes were nothing like CA, but in 1811, the area was pretty sparsely populated, so not much stru

  • Astounding! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday January 23, 2014 @08:55PM (#46052555) Homepage Journal

    The Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old, or about 1/22,500,000th older than it was when the last major earthquake hit in New Madrid.

    For comparison, that's like being surprised that the US is roughly the same as it was 5.5 minutes ago.

    Other fun Deep Time trivia: if the entire Earth's history were compressed into a 24 hour day, with the start being midnight yesterday and the current time being midnight tonight, then its surface was overrun with dinosaurs at 11:40PM. Modern Man came on the scene around 11:59:56PM.

  • Scientists determine that the sun will still rise tomorrow, the moon is still orbiting the earth, and water is still wet.

  • People look at plate tectonics like it is happening on a flat plane. The edges between them are not straight. As they move, pressure builds up, and not just on the edges. It has to be released somewhere. The east and gulf coasts were made as the mountains inland eroded. The west coast are collections of bits of land tacked on the craton as it moved around over time. It is not one solid piece, and doesn't act as one.
  • Can said Midwestern earthquake swallow Chicago, and where is the best vantage point where I can sit with my popcorn and watch?

    • Can said Midwestern earthquake swallow Chicago, and where is the best vantage point where I can sit with my popcorn and watch?

      Well, during the 1811/12 quake, the Mississippi ran backwards for several days, and eyewitness accounts from near the epicenter claim that you could actually see the seismic waves as they rolled across the landscape, so hey, maybe we'll get lucky!

  • I grew up not far from New Madrid. While I lived in the area, there was no shortage of theories and speculation about when the fault was going to let "the Big One" go and kill us all. Hell, we got out of class for about a week when I was in middle school, because some famous geologist had said, "This date is when it's going to happen."

    Of course, the big quake never happened. We went about our lives as if nothing had changed, because it hadn't. Now I live a few hundred miles from there, and I still chuckle w

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