Birds Point Levee Explosion
provided by Mitch Withers, Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI), Memphis, TN
Monday night May 2 at 10:02::29 CDT (5/3/11 03:02:29 UTC)
Tuesday afternoon May 3, at 12:36:56 CDT 5/3/11 17:36:56 UTC)
Thursday afternoon May 5, 2011 at 14:33:31 CDT (5/5/11 19:33:31 UTC)
Seismic monitoring stations operated by the University of Memphis, St Louis University, and the U.S. Geological Survey recorded the explosion of a portion of the Birds Point Levee by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) late monday evening. The event occurred at about 10:02pm CDT on May 2, 2011 (May 3 at 03:02:40 UTC) and had an equivalent magnitude of about 3. This was part of the USACE Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway Operations Plan put into effect to stave off flooding in the town of Cairo, IL and elsewhere. Portions of the Mississippi river are expected to reach levels in the coming days not seen since the great flood of 1937. The displayed seismogram was recorded on station HENM located about ten miles north of New Madrid, MO and about 20 miles southeast of the levee.
Similar blasting activity is also conducted routinely in mines, quarries, road building, and other human endeavors and does not induce additional earthquakes. The added weight of the flood waters are only a tiny fraction of the weight of the earth's crust and are also not expected to induce earthquakes. The probability of a significant New Madrid earthquake is no higher nor lower as a result of the Birds Point operation or the flood waters.