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New Madrid zone earthquake felt in Missouri, 8 other states

February 21, 2012|By Michael Muskal

What by historical standards was a mild earthquake shook parts of as many as nine states on Tuesday in the latest rumble along the fabled New Madrid Seismic Zone.

The quake, measuring 4.0, struck at 3:58 a.m. CST near East Prairie, Mo., a rural town of some 3,200 people off of Interstate 55, which connects St. Louis with Memphis, Tenn., according to the U.S. Geological Survey website.

The quake was felt in Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee and there were scattered reports from four other states including as far away as Georgia.

The depth of the quake was about three miles, the geological service said. Only minor damage was reported.

The New Madrid zone is considered one of the younger earthquake areas in North America, stretching some 150 miles through five states. The potential impact is larger, however, including the states of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Four of the largest recorded earthquakes in North America took place in the New Madrid zone and all are believed to be in the 8.0 range. All occurred between December 1811 and February 1812.

The most significant recent quake was rated 5.4 and occurred Nov. 9, 1968. It was centered in Dale, Ill., and was felt in 23 states.

Seismic instruments have recorded more than 4,000 quakes in the zone since 1974, but most were too small to be felt.

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Michael.muskal@latimes.com

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