Professor explains earthquake possibility for Mid-South

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A tsunami watch for coastal areas from Washington state to California was canceled Tuesday nearly three hours after a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck the Gulf of Alaska.

Mitch Withers, an earthquake research professor at the University of Memphis, showed how they tracked motion from the quake reaching as far a Pickwick, Tennessee.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage to property in Tennessee, but with the recent earthquake activity, many wonder what it means as far as risk for those of us living here in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

"We can see those waves on our instruments but that shaking is so small that it doesn't really change the probability of whether or not we are going to have an earthquake here in the Mid-south," Withers said.

The New Madrid fault lines run directly through Memphis from Marked Tree, Arkansas to Dyersburg, Tennessee into the boot heel of Missouri.

"The risk is about a 20-40 percent chance of a magnitude 6 earthquake in the next 50 years," Withers said.

He said it's always best to be prepared.

"If you're housed in an old un-reinforced masonry, you might want to consider getting it retrofitted," Withers said. "If there is an emergency you might plan on not having water and power so make sure you have emergency supplies for 3-5 days."

Copyright 2018 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.