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Is Louisiana Really in an ‘Earthquake Zone?’

getty images
getty images

So, the latest Louisiana earthquake was a lot of nothing. A simple, little 3.0 on the Richter scale measuring their severity. A few folks in the Blanchard area felt the minor tremor, basically the equivalent of being in a car when the engine starts, but there were no reports of damage, much less injury.

Here’s what KEEL News reported earlier Thursday:

There was an earthquake in our region while you were sleeping. The United States Geological Survey says the quake measured 3.0 on the Richter scale which is a very mild tremor. It happened at about 2:30 Thursday morning.

But what about the history of earthquakes in our state. Is it possible that, as Louisiana lies just south of the east to west New Madrid fault line, could someday experience an earthquake similar to California, much less hotspots like Indonesia or Haiti?

From wafb.com:

While Louisiana is not considered a high-risk and hasn’t seen seismic activity anywhere near the magnitude experienced recently in Chile or Haiti, there have been a handful of significant earthquakes in the state. Two of the largest fault lines run through Baton Rouge.

And the state has felt tremors from major earthquakes, though not for more than two centuries. A number of devastating earthquakes hit the United States in 1811 and 1812 the epicenter of which was the New Madrid area. These quakes were some of the largest ever experienced in the USA and the effects were across north Louisiana and all the way to the southern parts of the state, including New Orleans. Since 1843, the US Geological Survey reports that more than 40 earthquakes felt in or around Louisiana.

And what are the chances of a major quake? Once again, from wafb.com:

The New Madrid zone remains “the area most likely to produce earthquakes that could affect Louisiana,” according to the report. Since 1843, the report cites more than 40 earthquakes felt in or around Louisiana.

So, it seems that while chances are slim, earthquakes, though minor, are becoming more frequent. The most recent tremor felt in our area occurred in May of 2012. From ktbs.com:

People all across the Ark-La-Tex woke to their homes shaking this morning. Calls have been coming in to our newsroom from Timpson, Texas to Grand Cane, Louisiana. All saying that they were woken up to their homes shaking. According to the National Weather Service in Shreveport and the USGS website at preliminary 4.3 magnitude earthquake rocked the area at 3:12am centered around Timpson, Texas.

So, despite a lengthy earthquake history, Louisiana has relatively little destructive seismic activity, and that somehow seems okay. As any Louisianan will tell you, the annual threats of tornadoes and hurricanes are more than enough to deal with.

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