New Madrid Fault Quiet after Quake in Haiti

BUTLER, CO (KFVS) - You probably didn't notice, but it's been a bit quieter on the New Madrid Fault this week. Several local people called to alert us to this trend, including John DeWitt of Butler County.

Monitoring activity along the fault has become a hobby for DeWitt. "I got into geology and earthquakes because we live in an earthquake prone part of the country," said DeWitt. "It could happen tomorrow."

What he's tracked since Tuesday's massive quake in Haiti triggered his attention.

"After the quake there, there was no activity along the New Madrid fault line except for a small quake yesterday. Everything stopped." said DeWitt.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey's web site, John is right. The somewhat consistent friction near Southeast Missouri, Tennessee, and the Southeastern United States suddenly seemed motionless. It was all quiet, except for a 1.5 quake Saturday night. Meanwhile three moderate quakes shook the Oklahoma area instead.

"That was just an observation," said DeWitt. "I'd like to hear from the experts to see what they think of it."

Researchers at the University of Memphis say while they can give areas and probabilities, it's still a bit of a guessing game. Gary Patterson says it's hard to tell what the ultimately influence will be on the New Madrid seismic zone, but it is unlikely to cause more activity in this area.

To track down clues to solve this faulty puzzle, researchers are installing more seismic instruments along the New Madrid Fault to monitor trends like the one noticed by DeWitt.

John says he'll keep tracking those trends online.

"It would be nice if we had the technology to predict earthquakes," said DeWitt.

Meanwhile, research is making strides. Long term forecasting, measuring fault line probability, suggests California could be due for a quake in the next 30 years. Meanwhile, scientists used GPS sensors to focus below plates. Research from at 2008 GPS study indicated Haiti's fault line was primed for a major quake. At the University of Memphis, the school's seismologist will be part of an International study using lessons from Haiti to prepare for quakes around the world.

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