Stream Networks and Long-Term Surface Uplift in the New Madrid Seismic Zone

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Science  19 Aug 1994:
Vol. 265, Issue 5175, pp. 1081-1084
DOI: 10.1126/science.265.5175.1081


Stream networks are sensitive to low rates of surface uplift and can be used to decipher the history of large earthquakes even where faults do not rupture the surface, as in intraplate seismic zones. Statistical analysis of alluvial network data from topographic maps in the New Madrid seismic zone, in the central United States, shows that stream-segment gradients deviate the most from an estimated natural stream profile where surface uplift is greatest. Evidence of cumulative deformation distilled from stream network patterns represents at least several meters of differential surface uplift during Holocene time, which suggests that more than one cycle of surface deformation occurred.