A series of earthquakes hit the New Madrid seismic zone of southeastern Missouri, northeastern Arkansas, and adjacent parts of Tennessee and Kentucky, in December 1811 to February 1812. Three earthquakes had a magnitude of 7.0 or greater. The first earthquake occurred December 16, 1811, at 2:15 a.m.; the second 9 a.m. on January 23, 1812; and the third on February 7, 1812, at 3:45 a.m. These three earthquakes were among the largest to strike North America since European settlement. The main shocks were followed by many hundreds of aftershocks that lasted for decades. Many of the aftershocks were major earthquakes themselves. The area that was strongly shaken by the three main shocks was 2-3 times as large as the strongly shaken area of the 1964 M9.2 Alaskan earthquake, and 10 times as large as that of the 1906 M7.8 San Francisco earthquake.
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USGS Numbered Series
Bicentennial of the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquake sequence December 2011-2012