Experts Drill on New Madrid Fault for Earthquake Data

OCTOBER 2, 2006 - Posted at 4:40 p.m. CDT

SASSAFRAS RIDGE, KY - In a western Kentucky town near the New Madrid fault line, experts are drilling the deepest seismic observatory east of the Rocky Mountains.

When they hit bedrock at 2,000 feet, they'll put a seismometer at the bottom to record earthquake signals.

Geologists say the data will help reduce uncertainty in predicting the impact of earthquakes that threaten an area stretching from St. Louis to Memphis, Tennessee.

It also could be used to update building codes.

The observatory will enhance data already received from two shallower holes.

The U.S. Department of Energy-funded drilling near Sassafras Ridge, Kentucky is expected to finish this month.

In the early 1800s, the New Madrid fault produced some of the strongest earthquakes ever known to have struck the continental United States.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)