The only active earthquake fault in Kentucky | Anita Durairaj | NewsBreak Original (2023)

The only active earthquake fault in Kentucky | Anita Durairaj | NewsBreak Original (1)

Reelfoot riftDiagram by USGS; Wikimedia Commons; Public Domain Image

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There have been many faults that have been mapped in Kentucky but only one is known to be active.

The Reelfoot Fault is the only active fault in Kentucky and it is found in western Kentucky. It is a large fault that runs from the northwest to the southeast within the Reelfoot Rift. The Reelfoot Rift is an ancient rift zone that was formed 500 million years ago when geologic forces pulled the region in a specific direction.

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The Reelfoot Fault is a part of the New Madrid Seismic Zone which is a major source of earthquakes in the Southern and Midwestern states. The fault crosses under the Mississippi River south of Kentucky Bend.

The Reelfoot Fault is responsible for the 1812 New Madrid Earthquake. During the earthquake, there was uplift along the fault that created temporary waterfalls and waves that caused the formation of Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee.

Scientists have discovered geologic cracks on the Reelfoot Fault. These cracks are a result of the strong shaking in past earthquakes of the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The shaking from the 1812 New Madrid Earthquake was so strong that it was 1.4g to 1.5g (1.4 to 1.5 times the force of gravity) and could have caused the geologic cracks.

Scientists recommend that houses and other buildings should not be built near an active fault. While Kentucky does face earthquake hazards, it is important to note that the risk of a large earthquake is much lower than other natural hazards such as flooding, blizzards, and tornados.


What fault line is Kentucky on for earthquake? ›

Kentucky is situated near the Madrid seismic zone in New Madrid, Missouri. Although this fault zone last produced a major earthquake in 1812, the potential for a very damaging earthquake continues to exist.

Where is the Madrid fault line in Kentucky? ›

The New Madrid Fault extends approximately 120 miles southward from the area of Charleston, Missouri, and Cairo, Illinois, through Mew Madrid and Caruthersville, following Interstate 55 to Blytheville, then to Marked Tree Arkansas.

Where is the biggest fault line in Kentucky? ›

As many Kentucky natives know, the Bluegrass State is at risk of getting hit by an earthquake because of the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The New Madrid Seismic Zone stretches 150 miles and can threaten Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and several other states across the Southeast and Midwest.

What was the strongest earthquake in KY? ›

The strongest historic earthquake recorded inside Kentucky's borders was the magnitude 5.2 Sharpsburg earthquake of July 27, 1980, in Bath County. The quake caused an estimated $3 million in damage in Maysville (Fig. 2).

Is Pine Mountain KY a fault line? ›

Pine Mountain, in the southeastern corner of Kentucky, sits atop the Pine Mountain Thrust Fault. A thrust fault is a tear in the upper part of the Earth's crust along which one block of strata is pushed up and over another block of strata.

When was the last big earthquake in Kentucky? ›

The strongest earthquake on record in Kentucky was a Magnitude 5.2 in Sharpsburg, KY on July 27, 1980.

What would happen if the new Madrid fault line went off? ›

Nearly 200 schools and over 100 fire stations would be damaged; 37 hospitals and 67 police stations would be inoperable the day after the earthquake in the state of Missouri. Thousands of bridges would collapse and railways would be destroyed, paralyzing travel across southeast Missouri.

What is the biggest fault line in the US? ›

The San Andreas Fault is a continental transform fault that extends roughly 1,200 kilometers (750 mi) through California. It forms the tectonic boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate, and its motion is right-lateral strike-slip (horizontal).

What is the deadliest fault line? ›

While the San Andreas fault gets much of the attention, it's the Hayward fault that quake experts consider the most dangerous fault in America.

How many fault lines are in Kentucky? ›

The Reelfoot Fault is the only active fault in Kentucky and it is found in western Kentucky. It is a large fault that runs from the northwest to the southeast within the Reelfoot Rift.

Are earthquakes rare in Kentucky? ›

According to the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS), it's not that uncommon for earthquakes to occur across the state. In fact, most go unnoticed, but Monday's earthquake had the right conditions to be felt across much of southern Kentucky.

Has there ever been a 9.9 earthquake? ›

No, earthquakes of magnitude 10 or larger cannot happen. The magnitude of an earthquake is related to the length of the fault on which it occurs. That is, the longer the fault, the larger the earthquake.

What is the strongest earthquake in history? ›

The most powerful earthquake recorded on the Richter scale was the 9.5-magnitude Valdivia Earthquake that struck Chile in 1960, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The seismic event created a tsunami which together killed an estimated 5,700 people. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami registered a 9.3 magnitude.

What is the biggest earthquake ever on earth? ›

On May 22, 1960 a great Mw 9.5 earthquake, the largest earthquake ever instrumentally recorded, occurred off the coast of southern Chile. This earthquake generated a tsunami that was destructive not only along the coast of Chile, but also across the Pacific in Hawaii, Japan, and the Philippines.

Is Kentucky still a no-fault state? ›

Kentucky is a “choice no-fault” state which means that drivers can optionally choose to reject PIP coverage. The driver must file a Kentucky No-Fault Rejection Form with the Kentucky's Department of Insurance office if they choose to decline PIP coverage and compensation.

When did Kentucky become a no-fault state? ›

Enacted in 1975, Kentucky's Motor Vehicle Reparations Act, KRS 304.39 (sometimes referred to as the No-Fault Law) has two components: personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and limitations on an individual's right to sue and be sued (tort rights).

Is Kentucky on a tectonic plate? ›

Kentucky is on the North American plate between latitudes 37 and 39 and longitudes -82 and -89. Surfing for Earthquakes and Volcanoes.

Can an earthquake last 1 second? ›

Earthquakes may last seconds to minutes. While the shaking of small earthquakes typically lasts only a few seconds, strong shaking during moderate to large earthquakes, such as the 2004 Sumatra earthquake, can lasts couple minutes.

Does Louisville have earthquakes? ›

The largest earthquake in Louisville:

this year: 2.4 in Taylorsville, Kentucky, United States.

What's the name of the fault line that goes through Kentucky name all 8 states it affects? ›

The New Madrid fault line is centered in the central part of the country and could affect more than 15 million people in eight states. (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.)

Is Indian Point on a fault line? ›

Indian Point sits just one mile south of the Stamford-Peekskill line, part of the Ramapo Fault Zone. Researchers at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory say that this fault zone can produce at least a magnitude 6, and perhaps a magnitude 7 earthquake.

Does Kentucky have a lot of earthquakes? ›

According to the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS), it's not that uncommon for earthquakes to occur across the state.

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