STOP PLATE TECTONICS!!!
The Mid-Plate Enigma: Buried miles below the crust of the Ozark Plains and Foothills lies the sleeping giant that is a wrinkle
of the North American Plate.
In December of 1811(8.2), January 1812 (8.2) and
February 1812 (8.8), three of the largest earthquakes in North American history occurred in and around New
Madrid, Missouri, and in northeastern Arkansas.
In the late 1970's - early 1980's, geologic "x-rays" in the Mississippi Embayment
showed the presence of a "graben" (or "ditch" in German) on the Reelfoot Rift. This "ditch" appears to have filled with
debris from the Mississippi River, and leftovers from the glacial melt and ocean that once covered this area.
The rift began back in Precambrian times, and probably happened when the earth
tried to split apart here, and was halted by other natural forces, making it a "failed continental rift".
Rifts are where the earth's crust tears apart, or at the very least, attempts to.
An example of a rift lies below the Atlantic Ocean, as is know to us as the Mid Atlantic Rift. This area separated South
America from Africa, and dragged the North American Plate with it.
The Salton Trough is another rift, tearing the Baja away from Mexico.
The pressure exerted on the Reelfoot Rift is enormous. It has the pressure
of the Mid Atlantic Rift shoving the North American Plate westward, and the back pressure of the Pacific Plates and Caribbean
Plates pushing northeast and north.
What probably happened in 1811-1812 was the failing of the superstrong rocks
that were acting as a logjam, holding this rift in place for a over a million years ago.
(Notes were taken from "The Big One" by Jake Page & Charles Officer.
They also referenced a number of publications for their book.)