Just before 9:00PM CST on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, a magnitude 4.0 earthquake occurred near Poplar Bluff, Missouri. The earthquake occurred along what is most commonly referred to as the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ), a system of faults that stretches from northeast Arkansas and southeastern Missouri into Southern Illinois. Although dozens — if not hundreds — of small earthquakes occur along the NMSZ each year, the M4.0 earthquake near Poplar Bluff was the largest earthquake to be recorded in Missouri in a number of years.
The temblor is a not-so-subtle reminder that the central United States is indeed earthquake country. Numerous large, damaging earthquakes have struck the region in the past and according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), there is a 25-40% chance of a damaging earthquake (M6.0 or greater) occurring in the central U.S. in the next 50 years. There is a 7-10% chance of a M7.0 or greater occurring within the same time period. The USGS, which monitors seismic activity in the United States, maintains a citizen-based reporting program called “Did You Feel It?” (DYFI).
So far, more than 5,200 people across eight states have logged what they felt using the DYFI program. The majority of reports came from citizens in Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee, with the most intense shaking felt in the Poplar Bluff area. Many people on social media also reported feeling the earthquake.
Below are a number of news articles referencing the M4.0 Poplar Bluff earthquake.
- Is Missouri’s latest earthquake cause for concern? (Fox2now.com)
- Did you feel an earthquake? Memphis expert explains why (Wreg.com)
- Earthquakes in midwest can be felt miles away from epicenter | Ksdk.com
- Earthquake history and preparedness in the Heartland (Kfvs12.com)
- Thousands report feeling M4.0 earthquake near Williamsville, Mo. (Kfvs12.com)
- Local News: FREE ACCESS: Magnitude 4.0 earthquake rattles area (11/17/21) | Daily American Republic (darnews.com)
The M4.0 Poplar Bluff earthquake on November 17, 2021 was recorded at an earthquake monitoring station at the CUSEC headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee. The station, along with many others in the region, is operated and monitored by the Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI) at the University of Memphis.