A Look at Arkansas’ Most Significant Earthquakes

Arkansas, situated in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, is prone to earthquakes, ranging from minor tremors to significant seismic events impacting not only the state but also its neighboring regions. Here’s a look at some of the noteworthy earthquakes in Arkansas and their impacts:

The New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812

The New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812 were a series of powerful seismic events that rocked the central and eastern United States, with epicenters near New Madrid, Missouri. The quakes, felt as far as Canada and Mexico, caused extensive damage, including landslides, fissures, and alterations in the Mississippi River’s course. Native American tribes, such as the Quapaw and Cherokee, interpreted these quakes as divine omens.

Arkansas bore significant effects from these earthquakes, forming lakes like Lake St. Francis and altering landscapes, such as the creation of the Arkansas Post, pivotal during the Civil War.

The Marked Tree Earthquake of 1843

The Marked Tree Earthquake of 1843, registering at 6.3 magnitude, struck near Marked Tree, Arkansas, reverberating across several states. It inflicted damage on structures, wells, and the Mississippi River’s water levels, etching a fearful memory in the minds of witnesses.

This earthquake, the largest since the New Madrid quakes, underscored the region’s ongoing seismic vulnerability and spurred scientific inquiry into earthquake phenomena.

The Enola Earthquake Swarm of 1981-1991

Between February 1981 and March 1991, the Enola Earthquake Swarm unleashed thousands of tremors near Enola, Arkansas. Ranging from 0.5 to 4.5 magnitude, these quakes caused minor structural damage and prompted changes in groundwater levels and chemistry.

This prolonged swarm, the longest and most intense in Arkansas history, heightened public and governmental awareness, leading to advanced seismic monitoring and research.

The Guy-Greenbrier Earthquake Swarm of 2010-2011

The Guy-Greenbrier Earthquake Swarm, spanning from August 2010 to July 2011, rattled hundreds of earthquakes near Guy and Greenbrier, Arkansas. Ranging from 1.8 to 4.7 magnitude, these tremors, attributed to wastewater injection from hydraulic fracturing, stirred controversy and environmental concerns.

This seismic activity, the second-largest in Arkansas, prompted regulatory action on wastewater injection wells and sparked debates on fracking’s social and environmental impacts.


Arkansas’s seismic history has left a profound mark on its landscape, culture, and societal consciousness. These earthquakes have not only shaped the state’s physical geography but also prompted scientific exploration and societal reflection on preparedness and environmental stewardship. They stand as reminders of the intricate interplay between human activity and the natural world, urging a balance between progress and preservation.

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