NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An earthquake registering 4.6 in magnitude shook a large section of the Midwest this morning, rattling nerves throughout the region, but no major damage was reported.
The quake was felt at 8:19 a.m. CDT in parts of Illinois, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Indiana . It was centered along the New Madrid fault 40 miles north of New Madrid, Mo., according to Don Kelly, a spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Va.
New Madrid has been the site of some of the greatest earthquakes in U.S. history. The New Madrid fault line runs from Marked Tree, Ark., to southern Illinois and has hundreds of small quakes every year.
The region has been on edge about recent predictions of a major quake.
"It shook us pretty good," said Lt. Frank Masterson of the New Madrid County Sheriff's Department. "It was shaking the floors--our desk, our ceiling fans were really shaking." Masterson said it felt as if the quake lasted about 15 seconds to those in the sheriff's office. "It sounded like a big train coming through."
Kenneth Rutledge, who lives 16 miles east of Hopkinsville, Ky., said he was sitting in his living room when the quake hit.
"I'm telling you it moved me," he said.
Leonard Nash, who was visiting a farm in Piggott in northeastern Arkansas, said: "You could feel it and hear things moving in the house. It lasted just a few seconds.
Three or four cataclysmic earthquakes struck the New Madrid fault in the winter of 1811-12 and were felt as far away as Boston. They have been estimated at about 8 on the Richter scale, which did not exist at the time.
There have been predictions that an earthquake is likely along the New Madrid fault before the end of the century. Recently, a scientist in New Mexico predicted that a major quake could occur in early December, prompting increases in insurance sales and other preparatory measures.