In recent days, the newspapers and television screens do not go reported the strongest earthquakes in the Western Hemisphere. In January, hit the underground elements struck Haiti, six weeks later even stronger rocked Chile. And here and there were killed or found themselves under the rubble of destroyed houses thousands of people, countless homeless, the two countries could not do without foreign aid.
These disasters, so little time division involuntarily raise the question — who's next, and when? And it is clear that most cares close neighbors affected, including residents of the United States.
In response, scientists reported two news — good and bad. First soothing: in the years Americans can sleep soundly, while the second contains a frightening forecast — over the next 50 years, the country could be an earthquake, an equal and Haitian. And it does not happen to face such calamities California or Alaska, and in the center of the mainland.
Such is already happening. However, it has been a long time — more than two hundred years ago. Then, in 1812, the earth trembled beneath the Mississippi River, and the epicenter of the earthquake was near the small town of New Madrid in what was then Louisiana, now Missouri. In this case, the earth trembled badly in more than 50,000 and moderate — an area of nearly a million square miles.
For comparison, the historical earthquake in San Francisco in 1906 was felt in an area of less than 150 times. These figures will be more impressive if we recall that at that time in the nation's capital Washington cracked sidewalks, moving furniture in homes, and even further — to be located thousands of miles from the epicenter of Boston swung and rang the bell.
By surviving eyewitnesses, the disaster was followed by a thunderous roar and a shrill whistle. In some places, the land sinking, others — swelled mounds. Some cracks stretched for several miles. Somewhere scored fountains of water with sand several meters high, trees were broken like matchsticks, were visible everywhere craters several meters deep, the air was filled with the smell of sulfur …
Because of subsidence in the mainstream of the Mississippi River flowed for a short time back, and the island, which moored off for first sail on the great river boat and disappeared under the water. In addition to the destroyed half of New Madrid, suffered a slight downtown Little Prairie and Point Pleasant. The damage caused to the Little Prairie, was so great that the residents had to leave. The then governor of the Territory of Missouri William Clark asked for state aid for the "inhabitants of New Madrid County." It seems that this was the first such request to the U.S. federal government.
In the two months that followed there were three series of earthquakes and thousands of aftershocks related. They have forever changed the landscape and the direction of Mississippi. The forests were flooded and killed, there were new lake — Rilfut in Tennessee, St. Francis and Big Lake in Arkansas.
The cause of the catastrophe was the movement of deep layers of rock on the lines of the gap separating them or geological faults. It is because of the great depth caused waves propagate over long distances.
Since most of the faults are not only crack or fracture are called seismic zones. New fault zone Madrid crosses boundaries five states and at least three places Mississippi River. It extends from the northeastern Arkansas through southeast Missouri, covers the western Tennessee, western Kentucky and southern Illinois.
Once lived in the area a few people. According to the archives, in the disaster area in 1812 was approximately 4,000 people. At the present time, the Mississippi River is densely populated. Memphis in Tennessee and St. Louis in Missouri turned into the city, the population of which exceeds one million. And it increases the danger posed by the "scar tissue" faults and fractures around New Madrid. According to the forecasts of seismologists, new shifts can happen here at any time, and the probability of a devastating earthquake measuring at least 8 points of the next 50 years, 10.7 percent.
This threat is compounded by the fact that the New Madrid area encompasses one of the most economically depressed regions where the cost of living at least three times lower than the national average. In many places, people still live in primitive homes. In addition, the willingness to face the strongest earthquake is much lower than in the seismically active areas of the country. Mark Gilarduchchi, vice-president of the Association of James Lee Witt, a Washington consulting firm, engaged in crisis management and emergency response, said the lack of funds allocated by the federal government and local authorities to strengthen buildings and bridges.
Many of the houses here have long grown old and dilapidated, are of particular concern local leaders of the structure of cinder blocks — the worst year for use in seismic zones of the material. These bonded with cement blocks are very tough, they do not have the necessary flexibility and therefore resistant to fluctuations in the Earth's crust. Thus, hundreds of cities, large and small, in the area of the New Madrid may be subject to serious damage.
You can not say that the officials in the region are showing about a full carelessness. To prevent the worst effects and rapid recovery vitality of the region in the event of a natural disaster focused special programs for ten years carried out at the Midwestern states. It also established the Central American consortium that is studying earthquakes in the region and provides information about them to interested organizations. It was founded and some emergency funds for victims of the earthquake.
In November last year, the Working Group of the Obama administration to restore the city after a disaster has held five meetings on the likely consequences of earthquakes and mitigation. These meetings were co-chaired by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan.
And yet, in spite of everything, nor the danger area residents nor the local authorities do not seem to realize the true gravity of the threat. Suffice it to say that, despite calls from the authorities, emergency kits for survival in extreme conditions, there are only a few houses. A grant in the amount of $ 2.6 million issued by companies Memphis Light, Gas & Water in the reconstruction work after the earthquake potential, is unlikely to meet someone. It seems that the economic crisis and then had his say. Only hope that with the completion of its security interests of the inhabitants of the seismic zone of New Madrid will be fully taken into account.
· In the U.S., possibly an earthquake in the Mississippi Delta