The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes
Conevery Bolton Valencius, Assistant Professor of History, University of Massachusetts, Boston
In the winter of 1811-1812, powerful earthquakes shook the Mississippi Valley. These quakes were big news in 1812: some people thought they were bringing God’s judgment, and others thought they would inflame war between Americans and Native tribes. People recorded the tremors, argued about them, and tried to discern their causes. Yet by the late nineteenth century, they had been forgotten. Why? This presentation, from a newly-published history, traces how environmental transformations, the Civil War, and changes within seismology erased memory of the New Madrid quakes—and how recent science is bringing them back to scientific and civic attention.
Lecture: 4:30 - 6:00 PM, Reception: 6:00 - 6:30 PM in Porter Hall 100 at Carnegie Mellon University. Free and open to the public. More information on CMU's Environmental History lecture series here.