Earthquake simulations of the 1811-1812 New Madrid events


An important U.S. earthquake anniversary is quickly approaching: the bicentennial of the 1811-1812 New Madrid area earthquakes. Like the 1906 San Francisco earthquake centennial, the bicentennial of these earthquakes will be a critical time to reach user communities such as the insurance industry and engineers, as well as the general public, about central U.S. seismic hazard. At present only coarse models of potential ground motions expected from a repeat of the 1811-1812 events have been published. Also, the magnitude of the events are not well constrained because they are based on non-instrumental data.

With this research we seek a better understanding of the temporal and spatial distribution of shaking and damage from St. Louis to Memphis that accompanied the great 1811-1812 earthquakes, as well as other historic events that occurred after 1812. This research will advance the Earthquake Hazards Program by reducing uncertainty in potential damage estimates from a repeat of these earthquakes, as well as by helping to constrain the uncertainty regarding the magnitudes and source rupture models of these events. The results will be a part of a broad-based New Madrid earthquake scenario being planned by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium, and the USGS.