Geologist Theorizes New Madrid Fault is Dying

MEMPHIS, TN - A Northwestern University scientist believes that the New Madrid Fault is "cold and dying."

Geologist Seth Stein believes the New Madrid could be "running out of steam" and the small recent quakes are lingering aftershocks of the great 1811-1912 temblors.  The fault is a network of deep crack's in the earth's surface that crosses southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas.

It produces hundreds of small quakes each year, most too weak to be noticed without scientific equipment.

Other scientists disagree with Stein, and those differences show just how hard it is to understand what causes quakes in the central U.S....and when another big one may hit.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Stein's assumptions rely on incomplete data and are just another piece of an ongoing debate over the cause of New Madrid quakes.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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