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New Data confirms a big earthquake in Central US

A colossal earthquake that caused damage from South Carolina to Washington D.C. and temporarily reversed the course of the Mississippi River nearly two centuries ago could be repeated within the next 50 years, scientists said today.

Strain is building on a fault near Memphis, Tennessee that was the site of a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in 1812, according to new observations that settle a debate on the risk of another huge quake.

Deadly Earthquakes

"Ultimately the movement is driven by plate tectonics, with the North American plate moving generally westward," says Martitia Tuttle, a geologist at M. Tuttle & Associates who was not involved in the new research.

Most scientists think the New Madrid fault is part of an ancient system of rifts embedded in the plate.

"The old rift system is a zone of weakness and therefore is more prone to failure, resulting in earthquakes, than surrounding regions," Tuttle told LiveScience.

The new study provides "scientific justification for the adoption of stricter earthquake provisions in the building codes for Memphis and other cities in the central United States," Tuttle said.

The results, and an analysis by Tuttle, are published in the June 23 issue of the journal Nature.

Sooner or later ...

The findings contradict a study in the 1990s, based on less data, that concluded the ground was not shifting and so strain buildup was minimal. Since that controversial work, scientists have debated the prevailing view that more major earthquakes are likely.

"Our results confirm the current status of seismic hazard ... that says that the likelihood of another 1811-12 earthquake in the next 50 years is between 7 and 10 percent," Ellis said in an email interview.

The chances of a smaller but still devastating temblor are higher.

"Strong earthquakes in the New Madrid seismic zone are certain to occur in the future," states a fact sheet from the U.S. Geological Survey. "There is a 9-in-10 chance of a magnitude 6 to 7 temblor occurring in the New Madrid Seismic Zone within the next 50 years."

The new monitoring system around the New Madrid fault should eventually allow geologists to refine their predictions.

"Folks out west, California in particular, are much further ahead than are we," Ellis said. "They have more data, more instrumentation, and a simpler tectonic environment. Our results though will begin to constrain the set of reasonable theoretical models for the generation of midplate earthquakes, and that's the beginning of making better forecasts."
And source?, you do know you can get sued for stealing text from other sites?.
Thats imposible we there aren't any tectonic plates to make a Earthquake...
But I see what the point they are making is... I jsut didn't read it all the way thru.
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