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We surveyed the area north of New Madris, Missouri, for prehistoric liquefaction deposits and uncovered two new sites with evidence of pre-1811 earthquakes. At one site, located about 20 km northeast of New Madrid, Missouri, radiocarbon dating indicates that an upper sand blow was probably deposited after A.D. 1510 and a lower sand blow was deposited prior to A.D. 1040. A sand blow at another site about 45 km northeast of New Madrid, Missouri, is dated as likely being deposited between A.D.55 and A.D. 1620 and represents the northernmost recognized expression of prehistoric liquefaction likely related to the New Madrid seismic zone. This study, taken together with other data, supports the occurrence of at least two earthquakes strong enough to indcue liquefaction or faulting before A.D. 1811, and after A.D. 400. One earthquake probably occurred around AD 900 and a second earthquake occurred around A.D. 1350. The data are not yet sufficient to estimate the magnitudes of the causative earthquakes for these liquefaction deposits although we conclude that all of the earthquakes are at least moment magnitude M ~6.8, the size of the 1895 Charleston, Missouri, earthquake. A more rigorous estimate of the number and sizes of prehistoric earthquakes in the New Madrid sesmic zone awaits evaluation of additional sites.
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Evidence for large prehistoric earthquakes in the northern New Madrid Seismic Zone, central United States