Earthquakes are most common in the western states, but they can happen any time, anywhere, even in the Kansas City region.
The New Madrid Seismic zone in the central Mississippi Valley has been the site of some of the largest earthquakes in North America. Between 1811 and 1812, four catastrophic earthquake occurred during a three-month period. Large earthquakes also occurred in 1843 and 1895.
The New Madrid seismic zone was named because the town of New Madrid, Missouri was the closest settlement to the epicenters of the 1811-1812 quakes. At that time, St. Louis and other major cities in the central U.S. were sparsely settled. If a with a magnitude equal to that of the 1811- 1812 quakes were to happen in this region today, it would likely result in great loss of life and property damage in the billions of dollars.
The map to the right shows the damage zones from the 1895 New Madrid Earthquake. Red indicates areas that sustained structural damage. Yellow indicates areas where shaking was felt.
Safety rules and precautions
- Before an earthquake happens, identify places in each room in your house to take shelter, such as under a sturdy table or next to an inside wall.
- Don’t place beds by windows, and don’t hang heavy items over beds.
- Secure things that might fall, such as heavy TVs.
- Put strong latches on cupboards.
- During an earthquake, stay indoors. When you do leave a building, move away from it quickly.
- Get away from windows to avoid breaking glass.
- Don’t use elevators.
- Wait until the shaking stops completely before venturing out.
- Outdoors, find a spot away from buildings, trees and power lines. Drop to the ground.
- If you are in a car, stop in a clear location as quickly as you can. Stay in the car with your seat belt fastened.
- Avoid the use of candles or open flame after an earthquake in case of gas leaks.