We use Modified Mercalli intensity assignments to estimate source locations and moment magnitude M for eighteen 19th-century and twenty early- 20th-century earthquakes in the central United States (CUS) for which estimates of M are otherwise not available. We use these estimates, and locations and M estimated elsewhere, to compile a catelog of significant historical earthquakes in the CUS. The 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes apparently dominated CUS seismicity in the first two decades of the 19th century. M5-6 earthquakes occurred in the New Madrid Seismic Zone in 1843 and 1878, but none have occurred since 1878. There has been persistent seismic activity in the Illinois Basin in southern Illinois and Indiana, with M > 5.0 earthquakes in 1895, 1909, 1917, 1968, and 1987. Four other M > 5.0 CUS historical earthquakes have occurred: in Kansas in 1867, in Nebraska in 1877, in Oklahoma in 1882, and in Kentucky in 1980.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Catalog of significant historical earthquakes in the Central United States