People are still talking about the 1811-12 series of earthquakes that hit the northwest corner of Tennessee. The New Madrid earthquake was so powerful that it caused the Mississippi River to briefly run backwards, created Reelfoot Lake, and made clocks stop in Boston, Massachusetts. Passengers on a steamboat miraculously survived what must have been Tennessee’s all-time greatest white water ride, and history doesn’t record if they ever set foot on a boat again.
Scientists argue today about the likelihood of this level of damage occurring again. An article originally published in the Memphis Commercial Appeal quotes a researcher who says “‘It’s (the New Madrid seismic zone) going back to sleep for another thousand years,’ said Seth Stein, a professor of earth and planetary sciences who has studied the New Madrid zone for 17 years.”
We shall see. In the meantime, cue up Mama Cass singing “they tell me the fault line runs right through here.”