The 2018 New Madrid Earthquake was a major earthquake occurring in the year 2018. The Earthquake was eventually studied by Seismologists and they concluded that the Epicenter was directly over New Madrid, Missouri, and was of a 9.3 Magnitude, making it the largest Earthquake in American History and the 2nd largest confirmed earthquake in the history of the world (only losing out to the 1960 Chilean Earthquake of a 9.5 Magnitude). The New Madrid Earthquake ultimately caused 10 States to declare a state of Emergency: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. States of Emergencies were also declared by at least one county government in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

Catastrophic damage occurred in many of the areas near the Earthquake. Schools, along with other Public buildings, were closed for months, some even years, in the affected areas. The Earthquake caused damage reports from Eastern Colorado all the way to Baltimore, Maryland. The earthquake even rang church bells in Spain. The Earthquake also reportedly caused a massive tsunami which impacted Western Africa, with large Tsunami waves reaching as far as Cape Town, South Africa.

Earthquake Damage

Picture of Earthquake Damage. This is a bridge that nearly collapsed on I-20 in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Pre-Earthquake Warning signs

Warning signs of a large earthquake began to appear in early 2017, when 2 5.0 Magnitude earthquakes were reported on the New Madrid fault within a one-month span. A 5.3 Was recorded in June 2017. These earthquakes, known as the "little three" spiked warning signs of the Earthquake in the Area. The United States Government upgraded the New Madrid fault to high risk, the same status as California's San Andreas fault line. The US Government said that "Seismologist data leads us to believe that a big earthquake would strike within the next 5 years, however, we are unsure as to when." A post-earthquake look at seismologist data determined that the New Madrid fault had been constantly in a state of instability for several years. in July 2017, President Hillary Clinton asked that businesses practice earthquake drills at least once a month, and asked American families to make a plan for an earthquake in case it ever occurs, even if they were not in a typically earthquake-prone area. A study of seismograph data in June 2018 warned that the New Madrid had a earthquake of a 3.0 magnitude earthquake occur on 13 of the last 14 days, increasing the threat of an earthquake to the area.

The Earthquake

On August 25, 2018, at 9:25 am, shaking began to be felt in areas soon to be impacted by the earthquake. A all clear was issued at 9:31 am, suspecting the shaking was over. The shaking continued, this time more intense, at 9:34 am. Eventually, a big bang was heard, and the ground started shaking rapidly, destroying many buildings in the epicenter and in areas within the vicinity of it. Almost immediately, many American news networks were interrupted by a special report, for those not impacted by the earthquake. The World News was interrupted by the special reports several minutes later. many buildings were reported to have collapsed. The White House in Washington DC did receive minor damage from the quake. After 1 hour and 2 aftershocks, one reported to be of at least a 6 magnitude, the all clear was given and many people got up from under cover to see what was left and what wasn't destroyed.

The Aftermath (A Few days after)

Within 15 minutes of the earthquake, 3 states declared a state of Emergency: Missouri declared first, with Kentucky and Arkansas quickly after. The Governors ordered that all people be sent home (or at least what was left of it) until farther notice, in hopes of avoiding as many civilian deaths as possible. In some areas, people had to walk home and leave cars behind, as the roads were destroyed so massively to be deemed "undriveable". The Emergency orders caused massive traffic jams in Saint Louis, Louisville, Lexington, and many other big US cities.

Within the next 30 minutes, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama had declared a state of Emergency, with news outlets expecting states of Emergency to be declared in Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa within the next few minutes. The First Air Force helicopters flew to New Madrid to assess damage. Numerous reports emerged that the entire city of New Madrid, along with some neighboring cities, were underwater and annihilated into the Mississippi River. Reports also emerged that the Mississippi, Ohio, Red, and Tennessee Rivers were flowing backwards at the moment, posing a sudden Massive flood threat to Minneapolis and Pittsburgh.

By the end of the day, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa had declared states of Emergency, with Georgia, the last of the 10 states to declare a state of emergency that evening, declared a state of emergency at 7 pm that evening. Later figures reported that over 25,000 people died due to the earthquakes that day, the most casualties due to an earthquake in world history and the most devastating earthquake in US History. During that day, 2 major aftershocks occurred- one a 6.0 with a epicenter just east of Jonesboro, Arkansas, and another- a 6.4 with an epicenter near Hickman, Kentucky. These aftershocks killed 10 additional people.

In day two, states of Emergencies were declared due to flooding in Minnesota and Pennsylvania. A notable aftershock occurred of a 6.2 magnitude at 10:42 am with an epicenter on the Wabash fault line near Terra Haute, Indiana. The aftershock raised numerous red flags, including newly found violability on the Wabash fault line and potential for more earthquakes there in the future. Scientists suggested that the activity from the New Madrid earthquake spilled over topographic changes onto the Wabash fault line, which "was quite normal for an earthquake of a 9+ magnitude". It was at this point that not only scientists, but the American public and citizens worldwide began to realize how damaging the earthquake actually was. It was revealed late on the second day that it was revealed that the earthquake was a 9.3 in magnitude.

State and Government investigation

For the next week, up until Labor Day, the state, local, and national governments co-operated in investigating the damage in the earthquake impact zone, and to see how far the damage extended. On September 4th, the government Damage reports were officially released, along with a now-famous map:

New Madrid Earthquake Damage Map

Official Damage map from the 2018 New Madrid Earthquake. The Epicenter is in Dark Pink.


These were the official categories of Damage from the US Government:

Category Mag. felt (in area) Damage Description Notable impacted cities
Catastrophic 7.5-9.3
  • Destruction of nearly everything
  • Permanent changes in geography occurred
  • Damage to earthquake-prone buildings
  • Some cities Annihilated by Water
St. Louis, Memphis,

Evansville, Springfield, Little Rock, Nashville

Severe 6.0-7.4
  • Most buildings receive damage
  • Toppled trees
  • some temporary changes to Geography possible
Kansas City, Tulsa, Shreveport, Jackson, Birmingham, Montgomery, Atlanta, Knoxville, Asheville, Lexington, Cincinnati, Indianapolis
Moderate 4.0-5.9
  • Felt by everyone in the area
  • Minor building damage
  • Many objects fell over
Oklahoma City, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Mobile, Columbus (GA), Charlotte, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Des Moines, Omaha
Slight 2.0-3.9
  • Earthquake felt in many spots
  • some damage reported
  • reported shaking of the ground
Waco, Austin, Houston, Lake Charles, Jacksonville, Savannah, Wilmington, Raleigh, Richmond, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Saginaw, Green Bay, Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, Dodge City