Earthquake conference held in Memphis on bicentennial of New Mad - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Earthquake conference held in Memphis on bicentennial of New Madrid quakes

(WMC-TV) - More than 1,000 people from all over the world are in downtown Memphis for the National Earthquake Conference.

Organizers chose Memphis due to the bicentennial of the three powerful earthquakes that rocked the New Madrid fault line from December of 1811 to February of 1812.

The quakes are considered some of the strongest in US history, with magnitudes estimated between 7.7 and 8.1.

"The New Madrid fault zone is a very big issue nationally," said Dr. Arch Johnston.

Johnston is the founding director of the Center for Earthquake Research at the University of Memphis.  He spoke at the National Earthquake Conference Tuesday.

"We don't know when the next big one will be," said Johnston.

Johnston said the New Madrid fault line's next big earthquake has been debated for years.

Johnston said in the next three decades, the probability of a 6.0 earthquake could be greater than 40 percent.

"The next 30 years, my gut would tell me it would actually be more than the 40 percent estimate," said Johnston.

Those in attendance at the conference will also be talking about the "New Madrid scenario" and what it could look like if the quakes that happened 200 years ago were to happen today.

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