Recent earthquake activity raises awareness in Missouri

The largest earthquake in 30 years in Missouri occurred in November, and state emergency management officials said that will serve as a reminder to residents to be prepared for the next "big one."

The state's New Madrid Seismic Zone is one of the most active seismic zones in the U.S. Just before 9 p.m. Nov. 17, a magnitude 4.0 earthquake near Poplar Bluff rattled furniture and shook wall hangings in thousands of homes.

Missouri observes Earthquake Awareness Month each February to emphasize what emergency management officials said is, "the very real risk of a catastrophic earthquake occurring."

The New Madrid Seismic Zone, centered in southeast Missouri, has generated some of the most powerful earthquakes in U.S. history. A series of major quakes occurred in 1811-12, destroying buildings, ringing church bells hundreds of miles away, and briefly causing the Mississippi River to run backward.

While no one can predict exactly when an earthquake will occur, scientists agree large earthquakes in this zone still pose a risk.

The Nov. 17 temblor was the largest in Missouri since 1991. The area averages more than 200 earthquakes each year, though most are too small to be felt.

"The November earthquake was felt as far north as St. Louis and as far south as Memphis, Tennessee," State Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Remillard said. "While we're grateful there was no significant damage and no one was seriously injured during that event, the shaking was another important reminder that if a major earthquake were to occur, Missouri would be directly impacted. That's why it's important that we are all prepared."

As part of Earthquake Awareness Month, the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium has a two-part Facebook Live series scheduled at 10 a.m. Feb. 3 and Feb. 10.

The first part can be viewed at

The second part can be viewed at