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Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System Part VII: Comparisons By Stephanie Osborn

Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System Part VII: Comparisons By Stephanie Osborn

Excerpted from Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System, ©2017

By Stephanie Osborn

http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

Images in this article are public domain, unless otherwise specified.

This whole collection of writings started off with an email exchange, months ago. Our illustrious hostess was part of the discussion, and expressed interest in my converting the info to one or more blog articles. Then, when the LibertyCon programmers heard about it, they asked me to give a presentation on same, which I did.

The presentation was a full house, and at the end, there was a request for me to convert it to blogs and/or an ebook. I asked how many would like to see an ebook of the material; virtually every hand in the lecture hall went up.

A little over a month later, with additional research under my belt and factored into the manuscript, the book has gone live. And as promised, I am providing Sarah a series of blog articles on the subject. This series of blog articles is only a small fraction of the material contained in the ebook; it may be considered in the nature of a series of informative abstracts of the information contained therein. For additional information, may I recommend that you check out Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System.

Part VII: Comparisons — New Madrid versus San Andreas

san andreas

[An aerial view of a portion of the San Andreas main fault.]

aerial

[An aerial view of part of the central Mississippi River region,

depicting no sign of a fault.]

The two fault systems produce quakes reasonably comparable in magnitude. The biggest quakes on both systems can range from ~7.0 on the Richter scale up to around 9.0. The frequency of occurrence of “big ones” on the San Andreas is shorter, however; a few decades on the San Andreas vs a few centuries on the New Madrid, on average.

The length of the San Andreas main fault is greater; the San Andreas is ~800mi long, while the New Madrid main fault/graben is ~150mi long.

long

[California map, left, courtesy USGS, public domain.
New Madrid map, right, courtesy http://showme.net/~fkeller/quake/maps7.htm.]

BUT the New Madrid affects a vastly larger area, some 10x larger than the Great San Francisco quake, and even 2-3x as large as the 1964 Alaska quake!

alaska quake

[A comparison of affected areas from comparable-sized quakes

on the San Andreas and the New Madrid faults]

Why the difference? The underlying geology is very different, and that proves to tell the tale.

The San Andreas lies in an area of consolidated rock. This rock is shallow, broken, and hot. (There has been—and in many areas continues to be—active volcanism in the region.)

Therefore the rock strata of the region have high energy attenuation—the quake energy dissipates rapidly with increasing distance from the epicenter.

The New Madrid lies under literal miles of unconsolidated (loose, uncompacted; not stone), waterlogged sediment. Unconsolidated sediment tends to amplify wave motion. And then there are the rocks in which the actual fault(s) is/are found.

The rocks here are deep, relatively hard, solid and intact, and cold. (What volcanism occurred in the region occurred in the ancient geologic past, and all volcanos in the area are long since extinct, most worn down to nothing recognizable as a volcano.)

Therefore the underlying geology around the New Madrid system not only tends NOT to damp out the quake waves, but the unconsolidated sediment overlay AMPLIFIES them.

When is the next “Big One” in the New Madrid Seismic Zone?

Geologists look for signs of earthquakes in older strata to determine the frequency of major quakes. By dating the strata using found human artifacts, fossils of animals and plants, carbon-14, etc., it is possible to roughly date the objects/structures contained within a given stratum. A quick averaging of the dates yields a reasonable frequency of occurrence.

Periodicity

According to CERI, the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis (working in conjunction with the USGS), the periodicity of major quakes/swarms on the New Madrid system is roughly one swarm every ~500 years.

500 years

[Photo: https://www.buzzfeed.com/tgounley/the-day-the-earth-stood-still?utm_term=.veA8pv1jO#.vqwVRNg5A

Note the lack of anything resembling a fault.]

So…when is the next Big One due?

Per CERI:

  • There is a 7-10% of a mag7+ quake in the next 50 yrs.;
  • There is a 25-40% of a mag 6+ quake in the next 50 yrs.

What To Do?

Prepare as you would for any natural disaster—a tornado, a hurricane, etc.

Assume that the infrastructure may be down for a considerable time (several weeks) and plan for it. Do not assume you will have access to electricity or other power sources, or cable, internet, and phone lines. Even cell phone towers may be down.

Keep plenty of bottled water on hand, and/or a means of filtering/purifying water from local sources. Store nonperishable foodstuffs sufficient for a couple of weeks (up to a month) per person, in an area easily accessible after a quake. (Basements are not a good idea for this.) If you need medications, ensure you keep at least one month’s supply available.

Ensure you have a means of heating and cooking in the winter, and fuel.

fuel

Check your city or county building codes to determine if your home was built to withstand a major temblor. If it doesn’t, look into the possibility of retrofitting your home.

If you are preparing to purchase or build a house, take these things into account: of normal foundation types, a slab foundation withstands quake movement best, because it tends to “surf” the waves. Wood-frame houses fare better than masonry structures, as does welded steel frame. Incorporate earthquake dampeners into your foundation, especially if you live near the central Mississippi River.

Unlike many natural disaster events, faults don’t change locations. If you live in the eastern USA and Canada, you need to be aware of this threat. There is every indication that this fault system has an ongoing lineage of major, destructive quakes, and when it finally releases another “big one,” you WILL know it.

Be ready.

To obtain a copy of Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System by Stephanie Osborn, go to:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074SJ8ZPT

Wednesday Morning Promo by Freerange Oyster

*I told the ambulatory mollusc I’d get this in, even if late.  After this we should be able to resume normal blog procedure.  Sorry.  It’s difficult to step away for two weeks without a bunch of things spinning out of control, and I’m still dealing with those, and trying to finish Guardian.  Post on Thursday and I’ll be posting on MGC later, continuing my series about genre structure.  It will be an hour or so, though, as today I go to work at a remote location, to try to concentrate on Guardian and not on … stuff.- SAH*

Zoey Ivers

Atlantis+

Doors into the Dimensions Book 3

Fifteen-year-old Alice Brown is not an obedient child.

Six months ago, she was locked in a cubbie and found a very different way to escape. Across a dimensional threshold—into a war between the Artificial Intelligences—advance computers that evinced in the other dimensions as animals.

Alice and her friends befriended one AI, and helped it win the battle for Milwaukee.

But the completion of the WisGrid is going to open the bandwidth enough to expand the war to other cities and re-energize the war.

Peter Grant

King’s Champion

After decades of peace, war is threatening the Kingdom of Avranche. Its old foes are stirring in a new alliance with darker powers, and death and sorcery are borne on the wind. Owain, the former King’s Champion, stumbles into a deadly raid while visiting the grave of his swordbrother, and uncovers coded orders and fouler plans. Worse, he can’t sit this one out when he’s one of the targets!

The kingdom’s enemies know Owain is now their greatest danger. He must race against time to find and deal with them… before they deal with him!

Stephanie Osborn

Division One: Tour de Force

Alpha One is participating in Omega’s very first First Contact diplomatic operation. Unfortunately, it’s going to split up the team—the Cortians, a race from the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy, have stringent requirements, and that narrows down the list of “candidate exchange students” to…Echo. ONLY Echo. PGLEIA’s top Division One Agent, the man being groomed to be the next Director… and Omega’s partner. A plum assignment, for the pick of the crop.

But Omega doesn’t see it that way, though she can’t—or won’t—explain why. She is determined to stop the mission from going forward. At any cost.

Why is Omega trying to scuttle a diplomatic mission? What is she seeing that more experienced Agents aren’t? Why won’t the others listen? Is something bigger, more menacing, happening to her—to them? Will—CAN—Alpha One survive?

C Chancy

Seeds of Blood

Welcome to Intrepid. Where Halloween brings tourists, turning leaves – and demons.

Over two decades of bloody murder, Steven Savonarola carved a sorcerous Demongate into the heart of his own hometown. With less than two weeks to disarm it before Halloween, Detective Church and the IPD are running out of time.

If they’re going to make it to All Saint’s Day, they’re going to need hot lead, cold mead, and a weapon that’s out of this world. And a little praying wouldn’t hurt…

Welcome to Intrepid. It’s a hell of a Halloween.

 

Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System Part VI: The Effects and Aftermath By Stephanie Osborn

Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System Part VI: The Effects and Aftermath By Stephanie Osborn

Excerpted from Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System, ©2017

By Stephanie Osborn

http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

Images in this article are public domain, unless otherwise specified.

 

This whole collection of writings started off with an email exchange, months ago. Our illustrious hostess was part of the discussion, and expressed interest in my converting the info to one or more blog articles. Then, when the LibertyCon programmers heard about it, they asked me to give a presentation on same, which I did.

The presentation was a full house, and at the end, there was a request for me to convert it to blogs and/or an ebook. I asked how many would like to see an ebook of the material; virtually every hand in the lecture hall went up.

A little over a month later, with additional research under my belt and factored into the manuscript, the book has gone live. And as promised, I am providing Sarah a series of blog articles on the subject. This series of blog articles is only a small fraction of the material contained in the ebook; it may be considered in the nature of a series of informative abstracts of the information contained therein. For additional information, may I recommend that you check out Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System.

 

Part VI: The Effects and Aftermath As Told By Eyewitnesses

Eyewitness accounts—John Bradbury

“After supper, we went to sleep as usual: about ten o’clock, and in the night I was awakened by the most tremendous noise, accompanied by an agitation of the boat so violent, that it appeared in danger of upsetting…I could distinctly see the river as if agitated by a storm; and although the noise was inconceivably loud and terrific, I could distinctly hear the crash of falling trees, and the screaming of the wild fowl on the river, but found that the boat was still safe at her moorings.

“By the time we could get to our fire, which was on a large flag in the stern of the boat, the shock had ceased; but immediately the perpendicular banks, both above and below us, began to fall into the river in such vast masses, as nearly to sink our boat by the swell they occasioned…At day-light we had counted twenty-seven shocks.”

~John Bradbury, Travels in the Interior of America in the Years 1809, 1810 and 1811, (pub. 1817)

woodcut

[A woodcut of the disaster wreaked on the river.

From the West Tennessee Seismic Safety Commission website: http://www.wtssc.org/newmadrid/ ]

 

Eyewitness Accounts—Eliza Bryan

“On the 16th of December, 1811, about two o’clock, a.m., we were visited by a violent shock of an earthquake, accompanied by a very awful noise resembling loud but distant thunder, but more hoarse and vibrating, which was followed in a few minutes by the complete saturation of the atmosphere, with sulphurious [sic] vapor, causing total darkness. The screams of the affrighted inhabitants running to and fro, not knowing where to go, or what to do—the cries of the fowls and beasts of every species—the cracking of trees falling, and the roaring of the Mississippi— the current of which was retrograde for a few minutes, owing as is supposed, to an irruption in its bed— formed a scene truly horrible.”

~Eliza Bryan, New Madrid, Territory of Missouri

disturbed

[Forest debris left by the quake series]

terminuses

[The terminuses of landslides caused by the quakes.

Photos taken 1904; the damage was long-lasting.]

 

Immediate and Short-Term Effects

Immediate area:

  • A seismic seiche (“SAYtch,” a standing wave, a variant on a tsunami) propagated upriver.
  • Temporary waterfalls were created on the Mississippi River.
  • Many houses were severely damaged and their chimneys were toppled in St. Louis, MO.
  • New Madrid, MO was destroyed by shaking.
  • Little Prairie, MO was destroyed by liquefaction.

    liquifaction

[Liquifaction from a modern quake damages a railroad track]

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L44AoCIl0gU

[A 7.2 quake in California generates a seiche in a swimming pool]

 

Lesser effects included:

  • Earthquake Lights
  • Warm Water
  • Sand Boils or Blows
  • Seismic Tar Balls
  • Earthquake Smog
  • Loud Thunder
  • Animal Warnings
  • Ground fissures

[Photograph capturing earthquake lights — USA Today;
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/01/02/earthquake-lights-rare-phenomenon/4255097/ ]

sand blow

[Cross-section of a sand blow]

field

[A field filled with New Madrid sand blows — the light patches are the sand ejected by the blows]

fissures

fissures2

[Ground fissures under a road in Baja California after a 7.2 quake.
http://www.basinandrangewatch.org/QuakeImperial.html ]

dust.

[Clouds of dust raised by the 7.2 quake in Baja California.

This phenomenon, mixed with humid air, can form quake smog.

smog

http://www.basinandrangewatch.org/QuakeImperial.html]

 

The Mississippi Ran Backwards

[The following quotation was taken from the historical pages of the New Madrid, MO website.]

“After the February 7 earthquake, boatmen reported that the Mississippi actually ran backwards for several hours. The force of the land upheaval 15 miles south of New Madrid:

  • created Reelfoot Lake,
  • drowned the inhabitants of an Indian village;
  • turned the river against itself to flow backwards;
  • devastated thousands of acres of virgin forest; and
  • created two temporary waterfalls in the Mississippi.

[Some] Boatmen on flatboats actually survived this experience and lived to tell the tale.”

This is provided they did not tie up under the river bluffs at night to rest. Many of the bluffs collapsed, and landslides were common. Some boats are known to have gone missing, and many people that set out in rafts of timber intended for sale in New Orleans were simply never heard from again. It is because of situations like these that the actual death toll is not known…and likely will never be truly known, or even accurately estimated.

 

Long-Term Effects

The Reelfoot Fault, a reverse fault that crosses the Mississippi River in three places, up-thrust its hanging wall, resulting in a temporary dam across the river. It backed up into and around the extant Reelfoot River, which had a marshy area near its mouth anyway. The area flooded, then the land shifted again as the upthrust block subsided, and the Mississippi River flowed on, but the land in between the Mississippi and the flooded area rose, which kept the water from flowing back out again. The result was a permanent, extensive but shallow lake with considerable surrounding marshland. Today it is known as Reelfoot Lake, purportedly after a Native American legend.

[Reelfoot Lake, modern day]

 

The Mississippi River and immediate-area tributaries rerouted: Oxbow meanders were cut off, becoming lakes and ponds; peninsulas were cut off from the mainland to form islands; numerous existing islands sank into the river; and new islands formed from the uplifts and cut-offs.

Little Prairie, MO was wiped off the map, and never rebuilt. Reportedly several Indian villages were also wiped out, including Tuckhabatchee in Alabama.

 

Subsequent Quakes

  • 31 October 1895, Charleston, MO, magnitude 6.6, New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ).
  • 9 November 1968, Dale, IL, magnitude 5.4, NMSZ.
  • 18 June 2002, Evansville, IN, magnitude 4.6, Wabash Valley Seismic Zone (WVSZ).
  • 18 April 2008, Evansville, IN, magnitude 5.4, WVSZ—This one had two moderate aftershocks within 3 days, 4.6 and 4.0.

Per Wikipedia: “Instruments were installed in and around the area in 1974 to closely monitor seismic activity. Since then, more than 4,000 earthquakes have been recorded, most of which were too small to be felt. On average, one earthquake per year is large enough to be felt in the area.”

 

To obtain a copy of Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System by Stephanie Osborn, go to:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074SJ8ZPT

Festering

ground-zero-63035

There aren’t many days when I wake up, look around and say “oh, thank heavens, it’s overcast.”  Nine eleven is one of those days.  It probably will always be.

For many of us, the crystalline clarity of that September morning sixteen years ago will live forever as the symbol of something we lost, some innocent glimmer that can never be recovered.  On that day, we changed, each of us who lived through it and who didn’t willfully go back to sleep.  On that day those of us who had been hopeful, idiotic internationalist libertarians were reminded that the world doesn’t conform to dreams, that other countries and other cultures get a say in who we are and what we do and that some of them hate us, they really, really hate us.

More importantly, though, deeper than the fracturing that made me a grown up  (Yes, I was then thirty nine, but still very much a young idiot) 9/11 broke our national illusions.

Look, being attacked is one thing.  Everyone who wasn’t willfully blinded — me, I wanted to believe in peace and stability after my turbulent growing up years, after the USSR had been (I thought) staked through the heart, after the cold war was over without nuclear holocaust — would have known sooner or later an attack like 9/11 would happen.  It’s not unheard of in the life of nations, and besides, we had countries and organizations who’d declared themselves at war with us (still do.)

And there was the previous World Trade Center attack, after all.

It’s what came after that has led to where we are.

For those of you who were too young, those who were not aware of politics, yet, sure, the country was as riven, as broken in two (or more) pieces as it is now.  The happy-slappy idea of consensus, of unity, was a thing of a unified mass media.

All through the cold war, those of us who both lived among intellectuals and who knew the USSR was a horrible, dehumanizing regime, and communism a malware in the soul of mankind, knew that the “left-complex” of media, entertainment and education told themselves lies about communism, lies which, effectively, made them internal enemies.

It was impossible, particularly around Reagan’s election, to miss the press’s view that he would start the hot war with an “otherwise peaceful” USSR, or not to read beneath it, a willingness to surrender, to secure “peace in our time” at all costs.

But those of us who’d grown up among leftists (in Europe, say, or in academia) could excuse it too.  Well, sort of excuse it.  We could look at what communism had once seemed to be, and at the massive propaganda machine of the USSR and shake our heads at these poor deluded fools who longed for their impossible utopia.  We deplored their treasonous words, their ridiculous betrayals, but in a way more in pity than in anger.

Then came 9/11.  For those following this by score card at home, 9/11 came after the fall of the USSR and before the horror pit of what communism had actually been had been covered over, memory-holed.  For a few years (a very few) the left was actually almost ashamed of itself, almost patriotic.

By 9/11 they’d started making noises about “not done right” as though there were anyway to do “right” a regime that requires everyone to behave like angels and against human nature.

Then nine eleven happened, and the masks came off.  There were my leftist friends “made uncomfortable” by the American flags everywhere.  There was talk about how we should apologize to the Muslim world, how it was all our fault, how we were the worst.

Since then we’ve been treated to insanity like gay marchers in support of regimes that would kill them; “feminists” who cover their heads in Muslim countries; feminists who will claim that Islamic women are the “true feminists.”

You could break your heart from laughing, if at the heart of it, their hatred for us weren’t so clear, so concentrated, so pure.  If it hadn’t become obvious that the enemy within REALLY wishes to destroy us and everything we are, even at the cost of letting the world be consumed by the most fanatic form of a 7th century religion which hates everything they claim to stand for.

The enemy outside is to be expected.  America is a new thing in the world.  We will always have enemies.

The enemy within, both on the left and those who claim to be on the right, but who live in gleeful expectation of our downfall, those are a problem and a serious threat.

They are not a serious threat because of their ability to do much against us, or even because (on the left) because of their monopoly on the cultural megaphones.  They’re not even a serious threat because of their numbers.  There aren’t really very many of them, and their cultural megaphones have been negated by technology, a negation and downfall accelerated by their behavior after 9/11, which propelled many of us to blogs and political activism.

No, they are a threat, because they still have some structural power, and because they are blissfully unaware of how their behavior, their beliefs, their reactions, appear to the rest of us.

The flags everywhere should have been a sign that Americans don’t generally hate America, as they do.  It wasn’t.  Instead, they whined about jingoism and retreated into their America-blaming bubble.

The rise of blogs, their inability to fully control elections should have been a warning.  It wasn’t.  Instead they made jokes about people in their pajamas and managed one last media sweep, one last fraud wave to elect Obama (who benefited too from almost uniform racial solidarity besides) and convinced themselves that meant the rest of us REALLY wanted an apology tour of the Muslim world, REALLY wanted NASA turned into an instrument to raise Muslim self esteem, that we really wanted to abandon Iraq and Afghanistan to the ravening hordes of Isis.

The election should have been a wake up call, but it was not.  They have sunk into a dream of being brave resistance to a Nazi regime that doesn’t exist.  Even though their predicted racial extermination camps, their predicted crack down failed to materialize, they’ve filled their yards with signs proclaiming their resistance, and gone that much crazier in their public utterances.

The alarm is ringing and they refuse to wake up.  Instead, they roll over and hit snooze again and again and again.

But just like you can’t ignore the alarm forever, you can’t ignore festering wounds forever.

Declaring 9/11 a day of volunteering or whatever the hell Obama did, as though this were a blameless, guilt-free tragedy and we were just being sad in general; saying it’s time to get over it; managing to make most images of 9/11 disappear from online, even from the free image sites like Pixabay (seriously, go look up twin towers, there) won’t make us forget.  It won’t make it all go away.

Sending out black clad fascists who call themselves antifa, won’t make the discontent stop.

Our elites can’t harness this type of anger to their benefit, though Lord knows they tried and tried and tried — OWS, Resistance, antifa — because our anger is with them and with their obvious, declared hatred of us.

There is a festering wound in the heart of America: our unavenged dead, our unrepentant fifth column.

You can cover wounds up, and skin can even grow over them, but that won’t make them heal.  The infection will just fester, consuming everything and eventually killing the patient.

The American people know their self proclaimed elites would rather side with those who want to destroy America than stop hating the nation that gave them so much.  And the American people don’t want to die.

Amping up the crazy to eleven (really how much crazier can you get than invisible micro aggressions, or no one knowing where to pee?) won’t stop the sound of the maggots feeding on our living flesh.

It won’t expunge away the image of those men and women and children (do you realize those children would now be in college?) who died on that clear, sunny September morning sixteen years ago for no other crime than being Americans.  Americans like us.

Tamping down on our anger and our grief won’t make it go away.  It will just make it find new outlets.

It is possible, of course, to keep this up long enough that they do indeed destroy America.  But they won’t like what comes next.  And nor will we.

On the other hand, I don’t think they have the power anymore.  I think their insane shrieking is all they have.  And it’s not enough.

Beneath it, as a groundswell, the people who know that when someone says they want to kill you, you should believe them, the people who love America still, despite the betrayals of the elites, the Americans, are getting very, very angry.

Festering wounds create heat and fever.  The voices of our unavenged dead cry out for vengeance.

Telling us to sit down, shut up and do volunteer work is not going to succeed.

If this goes on, the “elites” and every trace of their culture will be destroyed.  And all we can do is fight not to let America go with it.

In the end, we win, they lose.

The die is cast.  They’ve made their choice.  The rest of us made the only one we could.

Not all the destruction of monuments, not all the screaming, not all the black-clad goons will change anything now.

9/11 and the people’s reaction to it was the alarm.  They hit the snooze button.

 

 

Stuff From Sarah and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

So, I’m back home, and working at finishing my first draft of Guardian, which means I’m not going to be fully “on” for the next week or so, but more “on” than I’ve been.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guest posters.  Heck, I know you did, to the point I felt a little superfluous.

Meanwhile, I came home to news I didn’t want to hear.  We all know human life is finite and a bad side effect of having friends older than oneself is that one knows one will lose them.  I’m going to miss Jerry Pournelle terribly until I see him again in eternity.

I wrote his obit for PJmedia and I refuse to write another one again.  So, the link is here:

Farewell To A Friend: Jerry Pournelle

Before that, while still in France I’d written something, which is here:

Where Do I Park My Yacht?

I have other things to write about my experience, and the things I saw, but not till this afternoon.  I still feel a little stunned.  It’s the side effects of a giant falling.  Or maybe falling isn’t the word.  He took wing and flew, leaving us alone, in the silence.

I suppose this means we’d better shift to do the best we can.  We wouldn’t want to disappoint Jerry.  Well, I wouldn’t at least.

He gave me the lifeline to rebuild after the 2012 election, when it seemed socialism was inevitable.  He said something like, in a blog post, and in emails: Just build, work, keep yourself building and making things, and they won’t win.  He also told me that if I couldn’t do anything else, just clean and repair the house, which would pay off later when I didn’t have time to do it.

He was right, and once I’d done enough of that, I found the strength to fight again.

As a remedy for depression, or just as a way of life, you can’t go far wrong from his advice: build, make, clean.  By itself, that mocks those whose idea of the world is a fixed pie and a need to redistribute ad nauseum.

In the end we win, they lose, and Jerry was one of the people who helped me find that path to sanity.

 

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is:present

Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System Part V: The Immediate Effects and Extent By Stephanie Osborn

NOTE – Not to detract from Stephanie Osborn’s great series, but I just came home to find out we’d lost Jerry Pournelle, great author, occasional commenter here, and a beloved friend.  I’d hoped to see him one more time in this world, but we’re not always given a choice.  I know I’ll see him again.
Meanwhile, my condolences go out to his family.  And the rest of us who loved him will strive to make him proud of us, so we can face him unblushing some day.

Rest in peace, Jerry.  I’m going to miss you.

Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System Part V: The Immediate Effects and Extent By Stephanie Osborn

Excerpted from Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System, ©2017

By Stephanie Osborn

http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

Images in this article are public domain, unless otherwise specified.

 

This whole collection of writings started off with an email exchange, months ago. Our illustrious hostess was part of the discussion, and expressed interest in my converting the info to one or more blog articles. Then, when the LibertyCon programmers heard about it, they asked me to give a presentation on same, which I did.

The presentation was a full house, and at the end, there was a request for me to convert it to blogs and/or an ebook. I asked how many would like to see an ebook of the material; virtually every hand in the lecture hall went up.

A little over a month later, with additional research under my belt and factored into the manuscript, the book has gone live. And as promised, I am providing Sarah a series of blog articles on the subject. This series of blog articles is only a small fraction of the material contained in the ebook; it may be considered in the nature of a series of informative abstracts of the information contained therein. For additional information, may I recommend that you check out Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System.

 

Part V: The Immediate Effects and Extent

The historic temblors, Winter, 1811-12

The principal temblors were as follows:

  • 16 December 1811, 2:15am local, M ~7.2–8.2, epicenter in northeastern Arkansas;

Multiple aftershocks continued every 6-10 min after this temblor until the next major tremor, 6 hrs. later.

  • 16 December 1811, 8:15am, M ~7.2–8.2, epicenter in northeastern Arkansas;
  • 23 January 1812, 9:00am, M ~7.0–8.0, epicenter in the Missouri Boot-heel;
  • 7 February 1812, 4:45am, M ~7.4–8.6, epicenter near New Madrid, MO.

There were uncounted multiple lesser foreshocks/aftershocks in the swarm.

I have also read eyewitness accounts which claimed that, in the central part of the affected area, the ground did not STOP moving for a period of 3-4 weeks (generally considered as being in roughly the January timeframe). This caused significant difficulties in evacuating heavily-damaged areas, as the horses often refused to move due to the uncertain footing. The time of year did not help matters, as the devastation was high and extensive, and most local inhabitants lost their homes (shelter), possessions (clothing/blankets), and food stores.

 

The Extent

Since 1812 vastly predates the invention of the seismograph, let alone the positioning of same, geologists have used later photographic imagery and contemporaneous eyewitness accounts to reconstruct intensities. The mapping of the central area of effect produced some interesting results.

results

 

But the total region affected by the quakes—the so-called “felt” region—is far bigger.

According to the USGS, the area of damage sustained (Modified Mercalli Intensity ≥ VII) was at least 230,000 square miles (600,000 sq. km.). Shaking strong enough to alarm the local populace (Modified Mercalli Intensity ≥ V) occurred over nearly a million square miles (>2.5million sq. km.). The “felt” region easily covered most of the eastern half of the continent.

the main

The main quakes were felt in the Front Range of the Rockies per some anecdotal reports, though populations were scanty and mostly consisted of mountain men.

Church bells were rung by the shaking, up and down the East Coast. This was especially noticed, since in that period, church bells were commonly used as a fire alarm.

The Mississippi River and her tributaries, including the Ohio River, were greatly disturbed.

disturbed

[Residual forest debris resulting from falling trees, landslides, etc. Photo ~1906.]

 

Residents of Montreal, Canada felt the temblors.

Residents of various Caribbean islands were awakened by the nighttime quakes, running into the streets in fright.

Remember the first Mississippi River steamboat, the New Orleans? (We talked about it in a previous installment of this series.) And how they were on the Ohio River when the earthquake series began, and traversed the Ohio and Mississippi rivers during the series of quakes? Whatever happened to them?

Along the way, they were tied up at Yellow Bank near Owensboro KY on the Ohio River, laying in a supply of coal when the first shock hit; the boat’s crew and passengers thought it felt like the boat had run aground, despite it being tied up. The wave motion made even the most experienced crewman nauseated.

centennial

[The centennial replica of the New Orleans steamboat,

http://leelinesteamers.com/?p=1278 ]

As long as the steamboat was under way, its own machinery drowned out sensation of subsequent tremors. However, the locals, both white and Native American, were badly unnerved; some even blamed the strange vessel’s appearance for the quakes. Oddly-flooded regions (that should not have been flooded — likely from the various uplifts damming the rivers in spots) and copious debris in the rivers — all caused by the quakes’ aftermath — impeded progress.

At every stop for fuel for the boilers, locals begged to be taken aboard and fed, as all homes in the area had been demolished, along with winter food stores.

canoes

Canoes full of angry, frightened Indians from the local settlements chased them along the river, blaming them — and their strange water craft — for the destruction.

All persons on board remained unnerved for the rest of the trip, to the point of only speaking when necessary, and then only in whispers.

 

 

To obtain a copy of Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System by Stephanie Osborn, go to:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074SJ8ZPT

Where Have All the Heroes Gone? – Amanda S. Green

Where Have All the Heroes Gone? – Amanda S. Green

It’s the end of August and that means the beginning of football season. Here in Texas, that is almost as important as Christmas. Friday night lights. Saturday college games. Sunday in front of the TV watching the Cowboys or the Texans. It is also the time when so many parents look at the athletes and shake their heads, wondering how to explain to their children that the spoiled, overpaid boy-men are not who they should be looking up to.

Not every football player or athlete, for that matter, are bad role models. The problem for Dallas Cowboy fans is that we seem to start every season with at least a couple of our players either suspended or facing suspension for violating the NFL player conduct rules. It is often for violations of the substance abuse rules. These rules are, at best, out-of-date, especially with the easing of drug laws in many jurisdictions. But those rules aren’t the ones I have an issue with. Why? Because the players know the rules and know they can and will be tested. They should take the responsibility of making sure they aren’t in violation. It is a choice they make to partake of banned substances. (yes, I know there have been false positives. That’s why there is an appeals process.)

My issue comes with the NFL’s application of its provisions concerning violence against women. First of all, I’m thrilled the organization finally took a stand. There are few things I hate more than domestic violence of any sort. For too long, the NFL turned a blind eye to what some of its players and coaches were doing. That’s changed and not always in a good way.

I’m not going to say the NFL was wrong in suspending Zeke Elliott. Zeke is a supremely talented player and Dallas was lucky to land him. However, he is also a young man who has a lot of maturing to do before he really gets himself in trouble. A sports reporter the other day said it best. To paraphrase, he said Zeke had never faced any real challenges in his life before joining the NFL. So, instead of being taught the excesses he enjoyed – or at least fell into for whatever reason – were wrong, he was given a bye.

Now, after his first year in the NFL, he faces a six-game suspension. The investigation went on for approximately a year. He was accused of assaulting his now ex-girlfriend. Serious charges and charges that had to be taken seriously.

Except, I’m not sure Zeke realized just how serious his position was. During the investigation, he allegedly took part in a bar fight. He was caught on video pulling down the top of a woman’s shirt on a St. Patrick’s Day float. There were other incidents as well. None of which would make the NFL or its investigators lean toward giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Now, before you jump me and remind me that the police did not charge Zeke in the assault case that started this ball rolling, I know. It is one of my problems with the NFL’s decision. The police found conflicting evidence concerning the events and, allegedly, there are texts from the ex-girlfriend attempting to blackmail Zeke into paying her off or she would “ruin him”.

The NFL could silence much of the criticism with their decision where Zeke is concerned if they would point to specific reasons why they handed down the suspension instead of generalities. I know they aren’t held to the same level of proof as the state with regard to criminal charges. But, in many ways, this feels like a witchhunt, especially as some of the purported evidence against the ex-girlfriend comes to life.

Where I have a real problem with the NFL is with how it attacked the NFLPA (NFL Player’s Association). In a statement, it condemned the NFLPA for committing victim-blaming. This is something the NFLPA has vehemently denied. But whether it issued the statement the NFL claimed or not, the NFL’s statement brings to light something that is dangerous – the trend to assume guilt whenever a woman claims a man assaulted her in any way.

I have no idea whether or not Zeke laid hands on this woman. I do know, both as someone who used to work in law enforcement and as someone who has read our Constitution, that a person is presumed innocent and it is up to the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges against him. I also know the accused has the right to confront his accusers.

There have been no charges filed against Zeke. For whatever reasons, the authorities decided they did not have enough to prove their case. The NFL, as a business entity, has the right to demand its players (employees) conform to a standard of behavior that was negotiated with the NFLPA. But, when they announce a player is being suspended for some reason, that player has the right to defend himself against those charges.

In this case, there appears to be evidence that there is more to the story about what happened than we, the public, have been told. If the woman in question tried to blackmail Zeke, he should be able to discuss it. Doing so is not victim shaming. It is laying out the facts for people so they can make an informed decision. Again, that is assuming the texts actually exist.

Victim shaming is when you say a woman asked to be raped because she was walking alone at night or because she dressed a certain way or because she wasn’t monogamous. It is saying a prostitute can’t be raped because she sells sex for a living. It isn’t pointing out that the victim might not be a victim or that she might have exaggerated what happened and showing proof why.

Sexual assault is one of the worst crimes anyone can fall victim to. But by claiming that a woman must always be believed when she accuses someone of raping her is to make a mockery of our justice system. There are times when no rape occurred. There have been times when the couple had consensual sex and then, when family members found out, the woman – or her family – claimed rape. There have been times when the woman filed a false claim to get back at the man. These times aren’t anywhere near as numerous as actual rapes, but the fact they exist means we have to give the accused the same presumption of innocence we give any other person accused of a crime.

It is easy, however, to understand how some woman – and men, too – want to change the way we view sexual offenses. After all, there were years when a woman was made to feel like being raped was her fault. The stance of the media to keep a victim’s name out of their reports was well-meant but it made things secret and that builds suspicion in so the minds of so many. Whether they’d admit it or not, they subconsciously wondered why the woman would hide behind anonymity if the crime really happened.

The NFL can’t have it both ways. It can’t say it believes a player hit, or worse, a woman and not expect him to try to defend himself. It also should not drag out an investigation for a year and then expect the player not to defend himself. The time alone on the investigation gives the appearance that they kept it open long enough to dig up something that wasn’t part of the original investigation. Conversely, Zeke should have been mature enough to realize he needed to keep his nose clean and do so.

It is past time for the NFL and the NFLPA to start working with these young men coming into the league and suddenly having more money and fame than they’d ever dreamed possible. Whether through a mentoring program or financial advisors or someone with a baseball bat to hit them up the side of their heads when they step over the line, something has to be done. But the NFL also has to quit moving with the speed of molasses on the cold Alaska morning when coming to a decision.

Team owners have to quit giving these young men a pass simply because of their talent. At some point in time, if they aren’t careful, one of those owners will find himself in the position of being held civilly responsible for what a player did. Perhaps it is time the NFL start looking at how to deal with the enabling owners as well as coaches and players.

As fans and as parents, we bear the burden of teaching our kids not to repeat the mistakes these young men make. There are so many players in the NFL and in other sports who are good role models. It is up to us to look for them and then make sure our kids know about them. I would much rather my son look up to Dak Prescott than Zeke Elliott right now.

Where have all the heroes gone? They’re still there. They are the ones with their heads down, doing their jobs, being responsible adults and taking care of their families. We simply don’t hear about them because they don’t make headlines that sell.

Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System Part IV: Background Info to the Historic Quakes By Stephanie Osborn

Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System Part IV: Background Info to the Historic Quakes By Stephanie Osborn

Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System Part IV: Background Info to the Historic Quakes

Excerpted from Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System, ©2017

By Stephanie Osborn

http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

Images in this article are public domain, unless otherwise specified.

 

This whole collection of writings started off with an email exchange, months ago. Our illustrious hostess was part of the discussion, and expressed interest in my converting the info to one or more blog articles. Then, when the LibertyCon programmers heard about it, they asked me to give a presentation on same, which I did.

The presentation was a full house, and at the end, there was a request for me to convert it to blogs and/or an ebook. I asked how many would like to see an ebook of the material; virtually every hand in the lecture hall went up.

A little over a month later, with additional research under my belt and factored into the manuscript, the book has gone live. And as promised, I am providing Sarah a series of blog articles on the subject. This series of blog articles is only a small fraction of the material contained in the ebook; it may be considered in the nature of a series of informative abstracts of the information contained therein. For additional information, may I recommend that you check out Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System.

 

Part IV: Background Info to the Historic Quakes in 1811-12

While the Native American tribes and nations of the region were aware of the activity in what later came to be known as the Reelfoot Rift, there were no records of this activity until the arrival of European settlers around 1800.

December 25, 1699 is the first quake on the New Madrid fault system known to have a written record. It was recorded in the journal of a French missionary, who was traveling with a group of explorers on the Mississippi River.

The quake occurred at approximately 1:00pm on Christmas Day. The party was at that time ashore near present-day Memphis, TN when they experienced a brief period of ground shaking. Little more is known of the event.

 

The 1811-12 Series

The best-known stories of quakes in the New Madrid Fault Zone occurred during the winter of 1811-12. This was also the widest-felt, and there are many eyewitness accounts as a result, despite the sparse population density at the time.

 

The Region As It Was In 1811

The United States of America was only 35 years old.

The Louisiana Purchase was made in 1803. Tennessee had been admitted to the Union about 15 years previous; Kentucky, just 19. Those were the ONLY actual STATES in the Union that were directly affected by the quakes. All the rest were territories, some of which were actively in dispute.

dispute

As a consequence, the area was VERY sparsely settled. St. Louis, MO, one of the largest cities in the northern region of the affected area, was relatively small, with an estimated population of some 1,200. Tiny New Madrid, MO had a population of only ~200. Natchez, MS and New Orleans, LA were both about a century old. The total population in New Orleans marked it as a large city of the day, estimated by some at approximately 25,000.

25,000

[New Orleans at the time of the Louisiana Purchase]

 

The Mississippi River was navigated entirely by wooden vessels; there were no iron/steel hulls. Canoes, dugouts, rafts, flatboats, and barges were the typical means of river transport. The New Orleans, the first paddlewheel steamboat on the Mississippi, left Pittsburgh PA on 20 Oct 1811 and navigated down the Ohio to the Mississippi and thence to New Orleans. The distance was 1100 miles. It had to wait in Louisville KY throughout November 1811 for the river to rise sufficiently to get over the rapids that were downstream. It did not depart Louisville until early December. The steamboat was still on the Ohio River at Owensboro, KY, ~150mi upstream of the river’s mouth on the Mississippi and ~200mi from New Madrid, MO when the quake series began, and it had to traverse the affected portions of the Mississippi River during the subsequent temblor swarm. It did not reach New Orleans until 10 January 1812.

replica of

[1911 replica of Steamboat New Orleans on the centennial of its maiden voyage – Lee Line Steamers, Riverboat History]

 

The “Great Comet of 1811” was conspicuously visible in the autumn of that year; it was viewed by many as a portent of things to come. So common were viewings of the comet, and so great the impact it produced on the viewers, that authors such as Tolstoy and artists like John Linnell and William Blake took note, incorporating it into their respective artistry. It was at least partly viewed as a forecast of Napoleon’s subsequent invasion of Russia, and thus was sometimes called “Napoleon’s Comet.”

A total annular solar eclipse tracked across the United States on 17 September of 1811 as well. Having started in the Bering Sea, it swept over Alaska (then a Russian territory; it would be over 50 years before the USA would acquire it), through the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, clipping the Yukon Territory and Ontario before tracking through northeastern North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and the District of Columbia. It also clipped the adjacent corners on Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. It, too, was viewed as a portent of things to come.

On a more political front, Louisiana was in the midst of a slave uprising. In the same region, the Creeks were growing restless; intra-tribal tensions were building to the Red Stick Rebellion, a kind of tribal civil war that would break out in 1813. The Seminoles were likewise uneasy, and in essence the Creek uprising would touch off the First Seminole War a few years later.

To the north, many of the area’s Native American population was already in turmoil, as Shawnee chief Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa had formed a multi-tribal confederation, with Tenskwatawa and others leading a spiritual revival. It was in this timeframe that Tecumseh began what some have called “Tecumseh’s War,” which ultimately segued into the War of 1812, all beginning with the Battle of Tippecanoe just over a month prior to the first quake.

It was in this uncertain time that the earth chose to move.

It did not help matters of Indian unrest.

 

To obtain a copy of Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System by Stephanie Osborn, go to:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074SJ8ZPT

How Many Flags Over Texas? – Amanda S. Green

How Many Flags Over Texas? – Amanda S. Green

 

Growing up in Texas isn’t like growing up back East or in the South or even like growing up on the West Coast. There’s a different mentality in a way to a Texan, especially if you happened to be born here. Part of it is because of the mythos of Texas. Part of it is, I believe, because we were our own country before becoming part of the United States. Part of it is because, before becoming rejoining the US after the Civil War, six flags had flown over our land. We’ve belonged but, in a very real way, we’ve been independent.

That’s why so much of the uproar over the removal of statues associated with the Confederacy hasn’t hit as much of a nerve here as it has in other areas. Sure, there have been protests. The largest, to my knowledge, took place in Dallas. Several thousand people gathered in multiple locations. While the issue of the statues was addressed, the real point of the rallies was one of equality for all peoples. That is something I think most of us can get behind.

The events of the last few weeks have made me think. Yes, that’s a dangerous thing. I can see why some people would prefer the statues to be moved, just as I can see why naming buildings and parks after those who served in the Confederacy would make them uncomfortable. However, I don’t believe we can simply take a broom and remove all reference to those men. We have to look beyond what they did over a four-year period. We also have to look at what connection, if any, those men had to the location or institution where they have been honored.

Last year, the Dallas Independent School District faced the issue of whether or not it should rename one of its schools. That particular school was in a predominantly African-American part of town. The students, as well as school administrators, teachers and parents, requested the change. They made recommendations for what they felt would be a more appropriate name for the campus. The school board debated the issue and looked into their various options. The decision finally focused on two considerations: first, the school had been named after someone who served on the Confederate side of the Civil War and, second, that person had little, very little direct ties to the community. If I remember correctly, the name change was approved.

What so many in the community noted, and appreciated, was the fact that the school board looked at the history of how the school was named. It wanted to know if the person being honored had done anything of note in the community or if the naming was, as happened, a push-back against equal rights.

I, in no way, approve of slavery or of treating people differently just because of the color of their skin, their beliefs, their sexual identity or where they come from (the list goes on, but you get the gist). But I also fear what will happen if we start sanitizing our history so much that we begin to repeat past mistakes. Yes, slavery is a stain on our history. Yes, we suffered – and still do – as we strive as a nation to accept that every person is created equal. But we have made great strides and we will continue to do so, as long as we don’t wind up pushing ourselves into a second civil war.

Where I see things going too far as decisions like Six Flags made when demands were made to remove the Confederate flag from its Arlington parks. Those six flags in the name of the park represented the six flags that have flown over Texas: Spain, Mexico, France, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of American and the United States of America. It is important to note that the flag being flown for the CSA was the official flag and not the battle flag that is so tied to the white supremacist movements.

Initially, Six Flags said it would not remove the flag. I’ll admit that I approved this decision because it is an historical fact that Texas was the seventh state to join the Confederacy. We can’t change that and, as long as the park calls itself Six Flags Over Texas, it can’t remove one of those flags and still fly the others.

It didn’t take long, however, for the decision to be reversed. It would remove the flag. But it did more than that. For the moment at least, it removed all the flags except the US flag. Now, when you enter the park, you are greeted with six US flags flying proudly. This is, in some ways, a perfect example of cutting off your nose to spite your face. Because the park didn’t want to risk offending some people, it removed flags that brought pride to others. Gone is the reminder of the Republic of Texas. Gone is the reminder that we were first settled by Spain and France. Gone is the Mexican flag, not only our closest foreign neighbor but an important trade partner.

How the park deals with this in the long run remains to be seen but it is a situation where there is no winning solution.

As for the statues and buildings, those should be decided on a case-by-case situation. One of those who has been very vocal on social media demanding the complete erasure of all memorials to the Confederacy just the other day raked someone over the coals for criticizing an activist for past behavior. Their basis for the defense was that people can change. The irony of that situation was lost on them but not on so many others. If you believe people can change, then you have to admit that those who supported the Confederacy could change after the war and realize their support of slavery was misplaced. If they did, then should we not leave their names on the buildings and parks? Or does that forgiveness only apply to those currently supporting your position?

Even if a statue needs to come down, that does not give anyone the right to take matters into their own hands. It especially doesn’t give them the right to go onto private property to destroy something they don’t agree with. Think about what would happen if the proverbial shoe was on the other foot. Or think about the precedent you are setting by taking part in such actions.

It only makes sense to look at the totality of circumstances surrounding why that statue was erected or why that park or building was given a certain name. Then, after the facts have been considered, it is appropriate to make the determination of whether a change should be made or not. If a city or other entity decides to remove a statue, should it be destroyed or should it be moved to a place where it can be placed into historical context? My vote is for the latter.

If we forget the past, we very well may repeat it and I, for one, don’t want to see that happen.

Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System Part III: The Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale By Stephanie Osborn

Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System Part III: The Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale By Stephanie Osborn

 

Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System Part III: The Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale

Excerpted from Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System, ©2017

By Stephanie Osborn

http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

Images in this article are public domain, unless otherwise specified.

 

This whole collection of writings started off with an email exchange, months ago. Our illustrious hostess was part of the discussion, and expressed interest in my converting the info to one or more blog articles. Then, when the LibertyCon programmers heard about it, they asked me to give a presentation on same, which I did.

The presentation was a full house, and at the end, there was a request for me to convert it to blogs and/or an ebook. I asked how many would like to see an ebook of the material; virtually every hand in the lecture hall went up.

A little over a month later, with additional research under my belt and factored into the manuscript, the book has gone live. And as promised, I am providing Sarah a series of blog articles on the subject. This series of blog articles is only a small fraction of the material contained in the ebook; it may be considered in the nature of a series of informative abstracts of the information contained therein. For additional information, may I recommend that you check out Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System.

 

Part III: The Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale

The intensity of a quake is defined by its effects on Earth’s surface. The Richter scale, long the definitive measure of an earthquake’s strength, is a measure of quake energy, and even that has been recently superseded by the moment magnitude scale (as in recent years, the Richter scale was found to be inaccurate for the most powerful quakes), but before the advent of seismographic data, geologists developed various means of estimating quake intensity based upon the damage produced. The one that eventually survived is the Mercalli Intensity scale. It was originally developed by Italian vulcanologist Giuseppe Mercalli in 1806, and later modified to accommodate new data.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “The intensity scale consists of a series of certain key responses such as people awakening, movement of furniture, damage to chimneys, and finally — total destruction. Although numerous intensity scales have been developed over the last several hundred years to evaluate the effects of earthquakes, the one currently used in the United States is the Modified Mercalli (MM) Intensity Scale. It was developed in 1931 by the American seismologists Harry Wood and Frank Neumann. This scale, composed of increasing levels of intensity that range from imperceptible shaking to catastrophic destruction, is designated by Roman numerals. It does not have a mathematical basis; instead it is an arbitrary ranking based on observed effects.

observed effects

[Modern quake damage to chimney; Mercalli VII]

 

“The Modified Mercalli Intensity value assigned to a specific site after an earthquake has a more meaningful measure of severity to the nonscientist than the magnitude because intensity refers to the effects actually experienced at that place.

that place

[Modern home with crawlspace, shifted off foundations with partial collapse;

Mercalli VIII-IX]

“The lower numbers of the intensity scale generally deal with the manner in which the earthquake is felt by people. The higher numbers of the scale are based on observed structural damage. Structural engineers usually contribute information for assigning intensity values of VIII or above.”

The Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale

Intensity Shaking Description/Damage
I Not felt Not felt except by a very few under especially favorable conditions.
II Weak Felt only by a few persons at rest, especially on upper floors of buildings.
III Weak Felt quite noticeably by persons indoors, especially on upper floors of buildings. Many people do not recognize it as an earthquake. Standing motor cars may rock slightly. Vibrations similar to the passing of a truck. Duration estimated.
IV Light Felt indoors by many, outdoors by few during the day. At night, some awakened. Dishes, windows, doors disturbed; walls make cracking sound. Sensation like heavy truck striking building. Standing motor cars rocked noticeably.
V Moderate Felt by nearly everyone; many awakened. Some dishes, windows broken. Unstable objects overturned. Pendulum clocks may stop.
VI Strong Felt by all, many frightened. Some heavy furniture moved; a few instances of fallen plaster. Damage slight.
VII Very strong Damage negligible in buildings of good design and construction; slight to moderate in well-built ordinary structures; considerable damage in poorly built or badly designed structures; some chimneys broken.
VIII Severe Damage slight in specially designed structures; considerable damage in ordinary substantial buildings with partial collapse. Damage great in poorly built structures. Fall of chimneys, factory stacks, columns, monuments, walls. Heavy furniture overturned.
IX Violent Damage considerable in specially designed structures; well-designed frame structures thrown out of plumb. Damage great in substantial buildings, with partial collapse. Buildings shifted off foundations.
X Extreme Some well-built wooden structures destroyed; most masonry and frame structures destroyed with foundations. Rails bent.

san francisco

[San Francisco, 1906; Richter mag. 8, Mercalli XI.
http://slideplayer.com/slide/4778900/ ]

 

The USGS adds, “Another measure of the relative strength of an earthquake is the size of the area over which the shaking is noticed. This measure has been particularly useful in estimating the relative severity of historic shocks that were not recorded by seismographs or did not occur in populated areas. The extent of the associated felt areas indicates that some comparatively large earthquakes have occurred in the past in places not considered by the general public to be regions of major earthquake activity. For example, the three [principal] shocks in 1811 and 1812 near New Madrid, MO, were each felt over the entire eastern United States.”

states.

 

To obtain a copy of Rock and Roll: The New Madrid Fault System by Stephanie Osborn, go to:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074SJ8ZPT