General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

If there were another monster earthquake at New Madrid, Missouri, could it potentially dam or reroute the Mississippi River?

Asked by elbanditoroso (29134points) 1 month ago

I was looking at a map this morning – New Madrid is right on the Mississippi, on an oxbow that makes a jog to the north.

If a strong enough earthquake hit, could the result either dam the river, or cause it to cut the oxbow off and push the water straight across?

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13 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Definitely it could cause the river to flow the other direction and cause some flooding and changes. During the big quakes in 1811–12 (some of the biggest earthquakes in the history of the contiguous 48) the river did flow north and fissures were created that wreaked havoc down Tennessee and in Missouri and surrounding areas, and the quake was felt hundreds of miles away.

When I lived in the Memphis are my earthquake insurance was a fortune.

When I lived there (2005–2012) there were plans to reinforce some of the bridges that crossed the Mississippi River to help make them more stable in case of earthquake, which probably has been done by now, I don’t know, and there was review going on for emergency procedures if a big earthquake hit. This is a real consideration for all cities along the fault and surrounding areas.

Edit: Googled up a link for you. If you google you will find a lot of information of the big quakes I mention above. Maybe if you research Memphis earthquake plans or other cities along the fault you will find more information regarding the precautions the cities have taken.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Not only could it change and re-route the river but with our dense, cold rock, it would be 20 times more destructive here than in California.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@KNOWITALL the strange thing here in Georgia is that we have had a couple of quakes (mild, but still) in North Georgia – which is not at all normal. Maybe the US is going to split at some point.

JLeslie's avatar

@elbanditoroso Do you have fracking in that area?

elbanditoroso's avatar

@JLeslie no. not in North Georgia

JLeslie's avatar

@elbanditoroso Are they saying it is from the New Madrid fault? That is very far away. That would mean much larger quakes being felt closer to the fault line I would think. When I lived in Memphis I felt a small shake twice from the fault. I was 25 miles east of Memphis.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@JLeslie no. One was from some place in northwestern South Carolina that we could feel here. Another one (smaller) was not far from Chattanooga, TN, in Dalton, GA.

JLeslie's avatar

@elbanditoroso It’s unnerving. I’m in a big sinkhole area, also very unnerving.

I remember learning about earthquakes in California as a child and for a long time I felt like part of California could crack off and fall into the ocean.

kritiper's avatar

Any dirt brought into the water by an earthquake would liquefy into slurry and maybe flood the surrounding areas, but that might be all. Sooner or later, the silt would all end up in the delta below New Orleans.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@elbanditoroso I’ve always heard in school that if New Madrid pops we’re in big trouble here in Missouri. Its what, 30 years overdue now I believe. My area is on a plateau so I’m not too worried.

Nomore_lockout's avatar

Note to self: Avoid Mississippi River.

AYKM's avatar

The east tennessee seismic zone has been particularly active in the last year.

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