Oh well. I'll delay it by a couple of hours and call it good. Just because I wanna see how the system works. It's a legitimate thing, shush it.
They had an earthquake in my home state (Kansas) yesterday. Three of them technically. Magnitude 4.4 was the strongest, which seems small when you look at California and it's regular 6.something strength quakes.
Now, if you're like most of the country you're blinking at your screen right now going "Earthquakes in Kansas. This is it. The End of Days has come" in whichever way you're prophesying the end (one-ist lies, or recitation of the book of Revelation, or sixty-seven pages of data about induced seismicity). But slow your roll a second. There's actually a giant fault line that runs through Missouri, not all that far from where I grew up. The New Madrid Seismic Zone is sort of like a Sword of Damocles just hanging out in the mid-west.
I'm going to tell you a little story about the New Madrid fault-line I remember from college without actually looking it up, because I have an eerie feeling it's not true and then I'd have to caveat it more than this and just...nope. Consider it an American tall tale.
In February of 1812 a Pony Express rider reported a very very strange day. He had a delivery for New Madrid Missouri, an emergency delivery that he rode all night to carry (I'm going to embellish and guess he was going from St Louis because that seems likely). He made it to the banks of the Little Prarie river sometime mid to late morning and became rather confused. He'd followed the road. He pulled out his map and checked, and he was at the bend of the river near the road. So where was the town? About then, he noticed that the river appeared to be flowing the wrong direction.
Oh, and there was a church steeple sticking out of the ground.
Like I said, I don't know if that's true. It's a story, and it's the prairie and something insanely strange that happened a couple hundred years ago. Anyway, New Madrid had an earthquake of somewhere between a 7.2 magnitude and an 8.1 on February 7, 1812. I'm not sure I can accurately imagine what a 8.1 would feel like. It was severe enough it liquefied the sandy ground, and purportedly most of the buildings, or anything with any real weight to it, sunk. Let's just say I doubt a Pony Express rider's horse could have stayed on his feet through it.
Not to mention it was about the third or fourth in a string, the first of which reportedly rang church-bells as far away as Richmond VA.
In 2008 FEMA studied the area, and informed the wider government that if New Madrid cracked off to it's full potential it would likely be the largest disaster in American history. Granted, an 8.1 is going to be bad. Sure. Now imagine an 8.1 in a clutch of states that have no earthquake preparedness plans. Where building codes don't factor in seismic activity, or they didn't in the 90's and even if they do now... There are hotels in Kansas City that are more than thirty stories tall I promise you are not rated for earthquakes. And a 4.whatever this week, they're fine I'm sure. How much stronger does that get before it becomes the sort of scene out of a Tuesday-Night cable movie?
In my checkered college past I was a geology major (for like five minutes, and never particularly seriously). One of my favorite things to do, when I was waiting in the geology building to explain to my adviser why I was failing Geology 101, was jump around on the floor in front of the seismograph, just to watch it pop up with new waves. My second favorite was dropping hydrochloric acid on things to watch them fizzle, but that's a story for another time. When I was failing at geology studies in a tiny program in Kansas nobody talked about studying the way mining could potentially be causing seismic activity. There weren't quietly-hipster discussions about how fracking was ruining the world and these big mining companies were going to kill us all.
Maybe it's just my faulty memory, but I recall most of the upperclassmen in our program were taking jobs with the big mining companies. Now even the smallest programs seem to have caught up to the 'maybe we should study the planet more than new ways to mine it' way of thinking. It's amazing what a decade (or so) will do.
In an interesting note, New Madrid seems to be developing a bit of a 200 year pattern. So we've got that look forward too.
Edit: I finished this post and hit publish and then I thought about California, and the three day warning I told my husband that related to a giant split in the ground in Sonora Mexico(which turned out to be more of a case of underground water divergence and correlation than causation). I have an eerie feeling if there's a giant quake in Missouri next week I'll be eating this post. In my defense, I'm certainly not wishing, and I don't control the way tectonics works.