The United States Geological Survey says the New Madrid Seismic Zone has grown and has become more dangerous in the last six years.

The USGS updates its earthquake assessments every six years. The newest study says 42 of the 50 states “have a reasonable chance of…damaging ground shaking…in 50 years.” The Survey also says “The New Madrid Seismic Zone has…a larger range of potential earthquake magnitudes and locations than previously identified.”



The finding comes four years after Northwestern University Professor Seth Stein suggested the fault is dead, a finding that the USGS Seismic Mapping Project Chief, Mark Petersen, thinks is wrong. He says a recent study has looked into whether recent small quakes are only aftershocks of the big earthquakes of 1811-1812 has found they are not aftershocks but are signals that the New Madrid Zone is still active.

Petersen says the New Madrid Zone is not just one fault. It’s a network of them. The new study includes eight new faults found by the nuclear industry that are within the zone or flank it.

Petersen says scientists are getting better at identifying earthquake zones. But science is no better than ever at predicting when the next big one might hit.