The Physical Environment
                                          Contents | Glossary | Atlas |  Index | TPE Today | Google Earth | Search

Tectonics and Landforms

Geographic Patterns of Faults and Earthquakes

The fracturing and movement of the Earth's surface have been linked to stresses created by movements of molten rock within the asthenosphere. Convection currents within this subsurface region tug at crustal plates, driving them into or past one another, or pulling them apart. Thus, the patterns of earthquakes and faults are closely associated with the boundaries of plates. These patterns can be seen in the daily occurrence of earthquakes shown in the Google Earth overlay below.


Figure 15.31 Worldwide M1+ Earthquakes, Past 7 Days
Real-time, worldwide earthquake list for the past 7 days (Courtesy USGS)



New Madrid

Figure 15.32 New Madrid Seismic Zone
Courtesy USGS (Source)

Though faulting and earthquakes are common along plate boundaries, they also occur in zones of weakness within the interior of a plate. The New Madrid Seismic Zone is the site of one of the  largest earthquakes to strike North America (1811-1812). Though it had relatively little effect on human populations due to its location in a sparsely populated area at the time, it had a significant impact on the natural environment. The largest earthquakes caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards and low water falls were formed from the fracturing of the earth. 150,000 acres of forest ere destroyed and Reelfoot Lake, KY was formed. Now, several large population centers could be affected by the seismic zone(Note: this links to pdf). The seismic zone can be seen in Figure 15.31.





Previous | Continue

Contents |Glossary | Atlas Index  |  Blog | Podcast | Google Earth | Search Updates | Top of page

About TPE | Who's Used TPE |  Earth Online Media

Please contact the author for inquiries, permissions, corrections or other feedback.

For Citation: Ritter, Michael E. The Physical Environment: an Introduction to Physical Geography.
Date visited.  ../title_page.html

Help keep this site available by donating through PayPal.


Michael Ritter (tpeauthor@mac.com)
Last revised 6/5/12

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.