New Madrid Earthquakes
1811 - 1812

The New Madrid earthquakes were a series of three very large earthquakes. The earthquakes were felt by people over about 1.9 million square miles in North America.

Seismic map New Madrid earthquake, USGS

Comparing two earthquakes with
similar magnitudes

First New Madrid quake
The first major earthquake occurred on December 16, 1811. The earthquake epicenter was in northeast Arkansas. During the earthquake deep cracks in the ground formed and there were many landslides.

Waves on the Mississippi River
Huge waves on the Mississippi River swamped boats and seemed to make the river run upstream. People were awakened by the shaking in New York City, Washington D.C. and Charleston, North Carolina.

January 23, 1812 earthquake
The earthquake epicenter of the second major earthquake was near New Madrid, Missouri on January 23, 1812. This was the smallest of the three major earthquakes. Stream banks caved into the rivers and fissures opened up in the ground.

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Formation Reelfoot Lake
The third earthquake's epicenter on February 7, 1812 was near the town of New Madrid and destroyed it. Land dropped down forming Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee. Many homes were also destroyed in St. Louis, Missouri.

Other quakes in the area
According to one eyewitness there were some foreshocks, four large aftershocks and many smaller earthquakes in the region between December 1, 1811 to March 1, 1812.

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