CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) - New research by the U.S. Geological Society suggests that while the New Madrid Seismic Zone hasn't produced a major earthquake in more than 200 years, the risk remains.
The Southeast Missourian reports that scientists used new technology to develop high-resolution imagery of the seismic zone centered around New Madrid, Mo. The imagery allows for more detailed mapping, showing weak rocks in the zone that are found at deeper depths in the Earth's mantle compared to surrounding areas.
Findings were published recently in the Earth and Planetary Science Letters journal.
University of Memphis earthquake expert Charles Langston says at least 200 earthquakes occur in the seismic zone every year, but most are very small. He believes there's a good chance of a damaging quake in the next 50 years.
It has been over two hundred years since the powerful New Madrid earthquakes.
Scientists now say that lull could end in the not-too-distant future. They expect a the fault to unleash a large scale quake within the next 50 years. That could cause devastation in seven states, including Illinois and Missouri and come with a price tag in the hundreds of billions of dollars.