Ask GeoMan...

What is known about intraplate faulting? What comments do you have regarding the New Madrid Fault Zone. Is it really an underestimated hazard?

--- Kathy; Poplar Bluff, MO

Not much. Most faulting is related to plate tectonics and occurs at plate boundaries, where 2 or more plates are in contact. Intraplate faulting takes place within a plate - usually well away from an edge. The causes of these types of structures are poorly understood, but continuing research is beginning to shed some light on them. The New Madrid certainly qualifies as an intraplate fault. Regarding it as being underestimated: increasing awareness of these types of faults is slowly beginning to focus attention on the New Madrid region. This is good - any large magnitude event along it could severely disrupt a very large portion of the eastern United States. Look on my website in the RCC section titled Earthquakes and the Earth's Interior for more info on the New Madrid and its potential hazards.


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