Rapid Intraplate Strain Accumulation in the New Madrid Seismic Zone

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Science  18 Sep 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5077, pp. 1666-1669
DOI: 10.1126/science.257.5077.1666


Remeasurement of a triangulation network in the southern part of the New Madrid seismic zone with the Global Positioning System has revealed rapid crustal strain accumulation since the 1950s. This area experienced three large (moment magnitudes >8) earthquakes in 1811 to 1812. The orientation and sense of shear is consistent with right-lateral strike slip motion along a northeast-trending fault zone (as indicated by current seismicity). Detection of crustal strain accumulation may be a useful discriminant for identifying areas where potentially damaging intraplate earthquakes may occur despite the absence of large earthquakes during historic time.