Missouri Fault Line Shows No Similarities to Japanese

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COLUMBIA - After an 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan Friday, many Missourians are left wondering if the New Madrid fault line, which runs through the southeast corner of the state, could show any similar activity.

University of Missouri Professor of Geology Dr. Mian Liu studies the New Madrid fault line. He first expains how the earthquake in Japan has nothing to do with the state of Missouri.

"It happened so far away. It's a totally different earth system, a different process. So it does not increase or decrease whatever risk we have here in Missouri," he said.

The last earthquake along the New Madrid line happened in the early 1800s. The fault's pattern shows an earthquake every 400 to 500 years, meaning another event could happen during the next two centuries. However, Dr. Liu's studies might prove New Madrid is finished with reactions.

The fault is located in the middle of a much larger tectonic plate. Active fault lines have continuous ground deformation, where the earth's energy has built up. However, the New Madrid line might be growing less dangerous.

"We found no significant deformation in our New Madrid assessments. That made some scientists suspect, maybe New Madrid has shut down," he explained.

Dr. Liu compares the situation to a similar one in northern China. He studied another fault line located in the middle of the Asian continent. He found, in the past 2000 years, earthquakes varied from fault zone to fault zone and never occured twice in the same place. He believes Missouri might be following the same pattern.

"If that is the pattern of how things work in inter continents, then we have reason to suspect that maybe the next big earthquake in the central US will happen someplace else, rather than the New Madrid seismic zone."