Earthquake Awareness and Preparedness photo

Preparing and planning is essential for earthquake safety. The New Madrid Seismic Zone experiences about 200 small earthquakes a year. Unlike some other disasters, earthquakes provide no advance warning. The State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) works with many government and voluntary agencies, businesses and schools to ensure a coordinated, effective response to the challenges a major earthquake would pose.

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Great Central U.S. ShakeOut

Everyone is encouraged to sign up and participate in the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut earthquake exercise. Millions of people across the central U.S. will participate in earthquake drills at work, school and home. This year's event will be held Oct. 19, 2023, at 10:19 a.m. Tell your family and friends about this important preparedness exercise.

This popular event is held every year on the third Thursday of October, but you can hold your #ShakeOut drill when and where you want. Choose another date or several dates, and include people in multiple locations, perhaps through video conferencing. It is actually a good idea to practice earthquake safety in different situations each year.

Educational Videos

  • Earthquake Exhibit at the New Madrid Historical Museum - Check out this new video tour of the earthquake exhibit at the New Madrid Historical Museum. The museum is located at One S. Main St., in New Madrid, Missouri. 
  • A Survivor's Story, Eliza Bryan – The Great New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-12 – Dec. 9 and 10, 2011 at the Dixie Theater in New Madrid, Missouri, Eliza told her story of surviving this terrible ordeal and life at that time in southeast Missouri. Eliza related her experiences to Dr. Seismo, played by David Stewart, Ph.D., through the help of Marian McDonald, who was reared in southeast Missouri more than 150 years after the great earthquakes. Eliza is one of the most important eyewitnesses to the events. 
  • Award winning preparedness videos created by Missouri school children – Kindergarten through 12th grade students across Missouri were encouraged to share their knowledge by creating videos that educate others about preparing for an earthquake. The contest was sponsored by the department’s Missouri Geological Survey. Winners chosen from three categories: K-4, 5-8 and 9-12 grades. Seventh grade students Miranda Kaleel and Lauren Whittier from Rockwood School District’s Selvidge Middle School in Ballwin, won the 5-8 grade category and were named grand prize winner for their silent movie video that demonstrates the steps one should take in the event of an earthquake. The video was a class project for gifted students. Theresa Stockman is their teacher.  Kaleel and Whittier were invited to the Carnahan High School of the Future, St. Louis, to practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On during the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut on April 28, 2011. Gov. Jay Nixon, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Education Department Secretary Arne Duncan fielded questions Carnahan School for the Future and Selvidge Middle School students posed.  Kaleel and Whittier were recognized for their winning video by Secretaries Napolitano and Duncan. The Selvidge Middle School video is the first video on the channel. The second is David Wiles’ video and the third is Lake Spring 4H Club’s video. The videos will be featured at awareness events during the month of February, which is Earthquake Awareness Month in Missouri. Winners were awarded a Missouri Rock and Mineral Set provided by the department’s Missouri Geological Survey, and a Quake-Catcher earthquake sensor donated by Stanford University’s Quake-Catcher Network. The grand prize winner was awarded a Kodak© Playsport Video Camera, which was made possible through a grant from the Central United States Earthquake Consortium. The grand prize winning video also was shown during the 2011 Earth Day celebration at the Capitol in Jefferson City Friday, April 29. 

Anniversaries of Note

June 7, 2011 – Magnitude 3.9 near Sullivan, Missouri at 3:10 a.m.
Felt in at least three states by nearly 3,500 people according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There were no reports of casualties or fatalities from the earthquake. No damage was reported. 

Dec. 16, 1811 – Estimated magnitude 7.7, Northeast Arkansas at 2:15 a.m.
This earthquake started the sequence of Midwest earthquakes that occurred in 1811-12. The ground reportedly shook for several minutes in places and the earthquake was felt in cities such as New York and Washington D.C.

Dec. 16, 1811 – Estimated magnitude 7.0, Northeast Arkansas at 7:15 a.m.
Felt on the East Coast. The event is described as "severe" at New Bourbon, Missouri, and was described by boatman John Bradbury, who was moored to a small island south of New Madrid, as "... terrible, but not equal to the first." Hough believes that this large aftershock occurred around dawn in the New Madrid region near the surface projection of the Reelfoot fault. 

Jan. 23, 1812 – Estimated magnitude 7.5, New Madrid, Missouri at 9:15 a.m. earthquake. The first large earthquake in the region in 1812. 

Feb. 7, 1812 – Estimated 7.7 magnitude, New Madrid, Missouri at 3:45 a.m. earthquake. This is considered to be the largest earthquake ever to occur in Missouri. This earthquake was felt across most of the United States and into Canada.

Jan. 5, 1843 – Estimated magnitude 6.3 near Marked Tree, Arkansas
Felt over much of the eastern half of Missouri. Some land reportedly sank near New Madrid and chimneys fell as far away as St. Louis. 

Dec. 17, 2009 – Magnitude 3.6 in southeast Nebraska
Felt in portions of Missouri, including the cities of St. Joseph and Kansas City.

Feb. 21, 2012 – Magnitude 3.9 near East Prairie, Missouri
Caused little damage but reportedly was felt in more than 20 states.