When you think of potential catastrophes here in Iowa, tornadoes normally come to mind. Fortunately we don't think about much possible earthquakes. But, what if the New Madrid fault in Missouri really let go? Here's what I learned about possible consequences for Iowa if that ever happened.

A few years ago, the Iowa Department of Resources shared a brief but interesting article about why we don't have many earthquakes here. The short answer is we don't have any prominent faults. The long answer is that Iowa farmers did report feeling the infamous quakes on the New Madrid fault in 1811 and 1812.

What if a major quake struck the New Madrid again? Geoplatform.gov explored that exact scenario showing the expected damage a 7.7 quake would do. Spoiler Alert: Iowa isn't totally off the hook for damage.

There are 8 affected states that would have grave consequences for a mammoth New Madrid quake. Iowa is not on the list, but there is one very good reason in this report for us to at least imagine what if:


There's one tiny graphic in the report that shows bridges that would be affected by a potential 7.7 New Madrid quake.


The good news is that the green indicates they don't expect the bridges from Iowa to Illinois would be damaged or destroyed. But, depending on the strength of the quake could result in closed bridges at least temporarily for inspection.

It's also worth noting that Britannica shared a map of the 1811 and 1812 New Madrid quakes and it shows moderate shaking through much of Iowa.

Is it likely a large enough quake to really affect Iowa will happen? I would vote no. However, it would be prudent to expect travel across state lines to be limited or shut down for a period of time if a tragic New Madrid quake really did occur.

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