Some new research indicates we might never have another big earthquake from the New Madrid fault. Northwestern University Professor Seth Stein and his team say thermal and geologic findings indicate the New Madrid fault is dying—and that any tremors coming from it are actually aftershocks of the big earthquakes of 18-11 and 18-12. He says some scientists have argued that the New Madrid Fault is special because the underground rocks are hotter and therefore weaker–and when the continent deforms, it is likely to take place at New Madrid. But Stein says thermal readings from far underground for the last twenty to thirty years do not show rocks are hotter, meaning New Madrid is NOT more special than eastern North American areas that don’t have quakes. Even more obvious is what is seen with readings from Global Positioning Satellites, which can measure ground movements to the fractions of an inch. Stein says those readings show the ground has not moved sinced 1990, leading researchers to think the fault system is going to “die” within the next few thousand years and is, in fact, dying right now. He says the longer the ground does not move, the longer it will go without storing up enough energy to trigger an eearthquake. Stein says it is clear that the next big earthquake on the New Madrid Fault is hundreds of years in the future–or longer, if the fault is dying. He says it’s still a moderate risk—much less than tornados or floods, but still there.
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