The Science of Deep History

Conevery Bolton Valencius

in The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2013 | ISBN: 9780226053899
Published online September 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780226053929 | DOI:
The Science of Deep History

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In 1912, United States Geological Survey researcher Myron L. Fuller published an account of the New Madrid earthquakes. This report languished until seismologist Otto Nuttli re-focused scientific attention in 1973. Still, New Madrid science remained on the fringe, partly because of a sensationalized, false prediction by Iben Browning in 1990. Slowly, researchers at CERI (Center for Earthquake Research and Information) and interdisciplinary efforts in paleoseismology assembled evidence for the quakes. Yet the science remained contested. In the early twenty-first century, researchers debated magnitude estimates and likely recurrence. By the New Madrid Bicentennial, consensus surrounded the need for disaster planning in mid-continent, through the efforts of CUSEC (Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium) and related agencies. Planners and scientists increasingly looked to worldwide parallels, just as people had in 1812. In attention to local knowledge, first-person accounts, and bodily experience, contemporary New Madrid science began to draw in surprising ways on historical roots.

Keywords: Myron L. Fuller; United States Geological Survey; Otto Nuttli; Iben Browning; CERI (Center for Earthquake Research and Information); paleoseismology; earthquake magnitudes; CUSEC (Central United States Earthquake Consortium); New Madrid Bicentennial; New Madrid earthquakes

Chapter.  21648 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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