Damaging earthquakes not likely in Madison County quake zone

Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Experts say there is no way to predict or anticipate, so they rely on history to help them gauge what could happen next. State Geologist, Michael Bograd at the Department of Environmental Quality says he would not be surprised to see another quake in this area of Madison County.

However, based on the size of the suspected fault near the Nissan plant, it's very unlikely it would be a high magnitude.

Bograd says the biggest earthquake threat to Mississippi remains the New Madrid Fault.

"It is very important that everybody, since we know we can have earthquakes anywhere in Mississippi and earthquakes from the New Madrid seismic zone, that it could effect us," said Bograd. "We need to be prepared in the event of any earthquake. That is duck, cover and hold."

As for the frequency of these Madison County earthquakes, three in less than two months, Bograd says that's very common. While quakes are impossible to predict, he says he would not be the least bit surprised to see another one in this area. Bograd says in Alabama, some of these types of zones have frequencies in the dozens.

Bograd says there is an unconfirmed, but highly suspected fault line right up under this area of Madison County, but it is not large. Fortunately in this case, Bograd says earthquake magnitude usually reflects the size of the fault it's on.

"The maximum magnitude on a fault is determined by the dimensions of the fault," he said. "It would have to be very long, many miles, and very deep of the fault plane that ruptures for any type of larger magnitude."

Bograd says an earthquake with a magnitude of up to five is possible but unlikely based on the history of the Madison County quakes. He says any future quakes would more likely be in the range of the three that have occurred, which will not cause structural damage.

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