Earthquakes rattle nerves in local area

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

PEMISCOT COUNTY, MO. - On shaky ground. Two tremors in the New Madrid Seismic Zone this week have people wondering if a big earthquake could be coming.

The two are considered minor. No damage has been reported from either.

Thursday night's quake struck around 7:27 local time. It was centered about six miles northeast of Caruthersville, Missouri and measured a 2.7 on the Richter Scale. Tuesday night a similar quake hit near Portageville, Missouri.

The U.S. Geological Survey considers the New Madrid Seismic Zone the most active in North America east of the Rockies.

But it's been about 100 years since a major earthquake hit this area. Still, the two recent quakes are leaving behind some rattled nerves.

The only thing getting shaken Friday in Caruthersville, Missouri is the salad at Grandad's Deli.

"It's a scary thought," said Sharon Russell, owner.

Russell said they were busy Thursday night and didn't notice the tremor.

"We were kind of rocking in this little place last night, so we didn't feel it," she said.

But now, the week's two tremors are the talk of the town. Alexis Avis shook with the first.

"The first one I felt, I was in bed. And I thought I could tell it was an earthquake," she said.

Avis said the two so close together put her on alert.

"New Madrid is always putting out a lot of small ones," said Dr. James Conder, Assistant Professor of Geology at SIU-Carbondale.

Dr. Conder believes there's really no reason for alarm but said it's natural for people to wonder.

"It really should spark some curiosity," he said.

Dr. Conder said some evidence shows the New Madrid may be running out of energy, and the recent quakes are its last breaths. But that's just a theory. He warns a larger one could hit at any time.  If it does, the damage region-wide could be catastrophic.

"We have very thick soils that shake like Jello, everything would get bounced around a lot," said Conder.

That's a circumstance Sharon Russell doesn't want to consider.

"How big does it have to be before you really feel the effects of it?" said Russell.

Professor Conder said researchers would become concerned if the frequency and intensity of those quakes increases in months and years to come.

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