The New Madrid earthquake fault zone affects parts of eight states: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
Researchers in 2003 estimated the New Madrid area faces a 7 to 10 percent chance of a devastating 7.5-8.0 magnitude earthquake over the next 50 years, and a 25 to 40 percent chance of a 6.0 magnitude quake.
Another report on the New Madrid Fault reports:
A 5.2-magnitude earthquake that struck a northern portion of the New Madrid Seismic Zone today put cracks in a purported theory that the fault zone is cold and dying, according to the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).
While the earthquake, centered five miles northeast of Bellmont, Ill., did not result in major structural damage, it is a reminder of the risks facing residents in the New Madrid area, said Dr. Timothy Reinhold, IBHS director of engineering and vice president. Additional earthquake activity is common after a tremor, so residents should be on-guard against the possibility.
This should serve as a wake-up call that the chance for significant earthquake activity in this area is very real, Reinhold said. The fault is not dormant or dying, as some scientists would like us to believe.
A group of scientists recently has been touting a theory that gauges the risks posed by the New Madrid fault as minimal. The same theory has been cited in arguments to try to water down building codes designed to protect homes and businesses against earthquake damage.