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New Look: 1811-12 Quake Estimated Too Powerful

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New Madrid Earthquakes 1811-12. Stumps of trees killed by deposits of sand.  Lake County, Tennessee. Plate 10-A in U.S. Geological Survey. Bulletin 494. 1912. - ID. Fuller, M.L. 361 - fml00361  - U.S. Geological Survey

New Madrid Earthquakes 1811-12. Stumps of trees killed by deposits of sand. Lake County, Tennessee. Plate 10-A in U.S. Geological Survey. Bulletin 494. 1912. – ID. Fuller, M.L. 361 – fml00361 – U.S. Geological Survey

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Some earthquake scientists say they think previous estimates of the strength of the 1811-12 New Madrid earthquakes were too high.

The Seismological Society of America is meeting at Memphis. The Memphis Commercial Appeal says one of the papers to be presented argues that the quakes in northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri during the winter of 1811-1812 weren’t nearly as powerful as previous estimates of magnitude 7.7 or greater.

Susan E. Hough (huff) of the U.S. Geological Survey says new reviews by independent experts put the magnitude of the three main earthquakes at a maximum of about 7.0.

University of Memphis seismologist Chris Cramer said accurate estimates of the power of those quakes could help predict how buildings will hold up in any new major quake in the area.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press

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