Episode 19: These Events of 1811 and 1812 Caused Series of Strange Phenomena

A series of unexpected events in 1811 and 1812 caused some strange phenomena and gave birth to countless legends. Sand volcanoes. The Mississippi running backward. Miles-long chasms opening in the earth. But only some of these weird occurrences are the truth. Have you ever heard of the New Madrid earthquakes?



For this episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jeff Grunwald, administrator of the New Madrid Historical Museum, and Seth Stein, a seismologist and geophysicist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and author of several papers and books on the New Madrid earthquakes.


The 10 Deadliest Earthquakes in US History; Mason, Betsy; Wired; November 21, 2008.

Strange Happenings During the Earthquakes; City of New Madrid; Retrieved July 2018.

Summary of 1811-1812 New Madrid Earthquakes Sequence; United States Geological Survey; Retrieved July 2018.

Disaster Deferred: How New Science is Changing our View of Earthquake Hazards in the Midwest; Stein, Seth; Columbia University Press; 2010.

Teaching about New Madrid earthquakes: science and hazards; Stein, Seth; Illinois State University; 2011.

The New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812; Soddalter, Rod; Missouri Life; February 7, 2018.

The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes; Bolton Valencius, Conevery; University of Chicago Press; September 25, 2013.