Effects of the New Madrid earthquake series in the Mississippi alluvial valley
Saucier, Roger T.
Miscellaneous PaperAbstract: Geological effects of the New Madrid earthquake series of 1811-12 in the upper portion of the Lower Mississippi Valley include land subsidence, uplift or doming, landslides, bank caving, fissuring, and sand blow phenomena. Features resulting from the liquefaction of sand are widespread in the alluvial valley and offer the greatest potential for definitively assessing the effects of major earthquakes on thick alluvial deposits and predicting the recurrence interval of infrequent major earthquakes in the region. However, liquefaction phenomena have not been the subject of detailed geological investigations applying knowledge of alluvial morphology and earth sciences methodology. Comparative aerial photo interpretation has been used to classify liquefaction phenomena according to morphology, distribution, and relationship to major depositional environments. Surface morphology and spatial distribution of sand blows and fissures indicate basic control by drainage lines, water table position, and thickness of fine-grained topstratum deposits. Research efforts have been aimed at locating field test sites where the subsurface expression of the liquefaction phenomena can be investigated through trenching and land planing. Subsurface expression is presumed to be more permanent than surface expression and may permit the recognition of such features in older formations. Evidence of fissures and related phenomena is being sought in older Quaternary deposits to permit estimates of the frequency of past major earthquakes. Similarly, fissuring, sand extrusion, and ground disturbance are being sought in the numerous archaeological sites in the alluvial valley area to permit identification of major earthquakes during the past 4000 to 6000 years or more.
Soils and Pavements Laboratory (U.S.)Engineer Research and Development Center (U.S.)
Earthquakes; Soil liquefaction; Lower Mississippi Valley; Mississippi River; New Madrid Earthquake; Geology; Geomorphology; Alluvial valleys; Alluvial rivers
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