Earthquake History

Minor effects were noted in Louisiana from the great New Madrid, Missouri, earthquake series in 1811 - 1812. Another strong shock centered in southeastern Missouri, that of October 31, 1895, near Charleston, was felt in Louisiana. This earthquake was considered the most severe in the region since the 1811 - 1812 series. Twenty-three states in all experienced this shock, the total felt area exceeding one million square miles.

On March 31, 1911, an earthquake centered near the towns of Rison and Warren, Arkansas. Houses swayed and articles were thrown from shelves in the epicentral area. The shock was felt throughout Louisiana, and along the Mississippi River from Memphis to Vicksburg, an area roughly 200 miles north - south by 100 miles.

An earthquake centered about 60 miles west of New Orleans awakened many people throughout eastern Louisiana at about 6:17 a.m. on October 19, 1930. Maximum intensity reached VI at Napoleonville, where the entire congregation rushed from a church, as the entire building rocked noticeably. Intensity V effects were noticed at Allemands, Donaldsonville, Franklin, Morgan City, and White Castle, where small objects overturned, trees and bushes were shaken, and plaster cracked. The total felt area was estimated at 15,000 square miles, based on a detailed questionnaire canvass of the region surrounding the epicenter. The historical files of Prof. Harry Fielding Reid, Johns Hopkins University, were searched in order to find data on earlier shocks in the area. Slight tremors were listed on February 14, and 15, 1843, and April 1882. There also was a slight earthquake on the Mississippi Delta at Burrwood on December 15, 1927.

A small portion of northwestern Louisiana felt a number of small shocks from the neighboring area of Texas on March 19, 1957. Maximum intensity was limited to a few broken windows, a clock knocked from a wall, and overturned objects (V) near Gladewater and Marshall, Texas. Felt reports were received from Benton, Keithville, Mooringsport, Shreveport, and Vivian, Louisiana.

On November 19, 1958, a local earthquake in the Baton Rouge area shook houses and rattled windows. Scores of residents telephoned the Weather Bureau, Civil Defense, police and radio stations. The shock was also felt at Baker and Denham.

A magnitude 3.8 earthquake centered near Greenville, Mississippi, affected a 25,000 square mile area of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee on June 4, 1967. The tremor resulted in a few cases of cracked plaster (intensity VI) in the epicentral area. Towns in Louisiana reporting the earthquake included Darnell and Oak Grove (intensity V), Lake Providence and Tallulah (IV), Bonita and Kilbourne (I - III). Another shock, on June 29, 1967, occurred in the same area. The magnitude was slightly lower, 3.4, and the resulting felt area was limited to portions of Bolivar, Sunflower, and Washington counties, Mississippi.

Abridged from Earthquake Information Bulletin, Volume 5, Number 2, March-April 1973.

For a list of earthquakes that have occurred since this article was written, use the Earthquake Search.