NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Here in Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky, earthquakes are not something many people think about. But the New Madrid Fault, located in northwest Tennessee, northeast Arkansas, and southeast Missouri is still active.
Did you know that in 1811-1812, the fault produced a series of earthquakes that shook the ground so hard that sidewalks cracked in Washington, D.C. and church bells along the east coast rang from the shaking?
The Mississippi River temporarily flowed backward, and Reelfoot Lake was formed in northwest Tennessee.
The early settlers were terrified by the tremendous upheaval of land, trees, and all that stood in the region.
Geologists say that the New Madrid Fault could produce another major earthquake. That’s why today, many organizations across the Midsouth and around the nation took place in what is called ‘The Great Shakeout’ drill.
Williamson County EMA Senior Operations Manager Bryan Hovde explained what ‘The Great ShakeOut’ is all about:
“‘The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut’ is part of a national, if not global effort to encourage earthquake preparedness across the country,” said Hovde, “We encourage everybody to practice an earthquake drill. When we are reacting to an earthquake, anytime that you feel the ground start to move under your feet, we encourage people to drop, cover, and hold on so it doesn’t rock away from you.”
And it’s not just the New Madrid Fault that scientists are worried about in this part of the country.
“We here in Middle Tennessee are sandwiched between the New Madrid Seismic Zone and the East Tennessee Seismic Zone, which the East Tennessee Seismic Zone is the second most active seismic zone in the U.S. east of the Rockies,” explained Hovde.
“So living here in Middle Tennessee, we live equidistant between these two very active seismic zones. A lot of times we forget. We focus on things like flooding and tornadoes, and we see these weather things that happen in our communities, but we forget that earthquakes are a thing that we experience here.”
To learn more about “The Great ShakeOut” and how to get your organization involved, visit shakeout.org.