This photo was taken in 1904 in Clay County, Arkansas and shows a fault trench left by the New Madrid Fault Line earthquakes of 1811-1812. Those earthquakes are known as the largest, greatest natural disaster the US has ever known and some say equaled the energy produced by one thousand atom bombs.
David Maxwell, the Director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, predicts that an earthquake of the same magnitude will hit again:
"There will definitely be casualties, and depending on the time of day, we've got studies that run a model that show we would have a substantial fatalities, certainly a large number of people injured.”
Though a major earthquake has yet to hit, more than 500 temblors have occurred since September around Guy, Arkansas. Not new news for the state, but now getting national coverage and attention from CNN. Many question whether the recent increase in frakking for natural gas along the Fayetteville Shale Play, in particular, the practice of injecting drill water back into the earth via disposal wells, is behind the exponential increase in seismic activity.
“I think everyone recognizes that there is an increased number of seismic events occurring in and around this area. If you look at the maps, at least circumstantially, there appears to be evidence that they may be related to disposal operations," said Shane Khoury, deputy director and general counsel for the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission. "But we also know that this is an area that is historically active."
In not a matter of “if,” but a matter of when a major quake along the New Madrid Fault Line will happen. In Spring, 2011, state and federal agencies will conduct a large-scale simulation of a natural disaster in order to practice earthquake response.
The Arkansas Dept of Emergency Management asks that everyone help by becoming as prepared as possible, and has put together an earthquake preparedness guideline for you.