4.0 earthquake in Missouri shakes 9 states

Associated Press Modified: February 21, 2012 at 11:01 am •  Published: February 21, 2012
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Just days after the 200th anniversary of a series of massive earthquakes in southeast Missouri, residents woke up Tuesday to a rumbling reminder that they live in one of the continent's most active seismic areas.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter of a magnitude 4.0 earthquake at 3:58 a.m. was located near the town of East Prairie, Mo., roughly midway between St. Louis and Memphis. Several people in five states — Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee — felt the quake, along with scattered people in four others, as far away as North Carolina and Georgia, according to responses to the U.S. Geological Survey website.

Only minor damage was reported, such as items falling from shelves, broken windows, minor cracks in walls and sidewalks, said Amy Vaughan, a geophysicist for the Geological Survey office in Golden, Colo. No injuries were reported.

East Prairie City Administrator Lonnie Thurmond said the quake lasted perhaps seven seconds.

"It seemed like everybody I've talked to, it woke 'em up," Thurmond said.

The earthquakes on Dec. 16, 1811, and Jan. 23 and Feb. 7, 1812, were among the strongest ever in the U.S., their magnitudes estimated to have ranged from 7.7 to 8.1. Shockwaves spread as far as New York and the force of the temblors reportedly rang church bells in Boston. The Mississippi River reversed flow for a time.

Those quakes, like the one on Tuesday, occurred in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, a 150-mile stretch between Memphis and St. Louis that crosses parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee.

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