Old Man Winter puts chill back into area weather; Reelfoot history reviewed
Posted: Friday, February 10, 2012 3:00 pm
After some very nice weather the past few days and even weeks, winter has filtered back into our area with some cooler temps but nothing we can’t handle.
We still have been very lucky overall with this winter’s weather and let’s hope it doesn’t change to much. We could see some of our coldest temperatures of the year this weekend.
It looks like the long-range weather models seem to put us in a more normal pattern for the next few weeks putting our possible early spring arrival on hold.
One thing that I have noticed is the trees are budding and buttercups are already coming up. There has even been a report of a couple of Purple Martins seen in our area and that is really way too early. I know back when we had Purple Martins many years ago on Pleasant Valley Road, one year we had a early arrival of a couple of Purple Martins and what followed them was a rather cold spell with snow. Let’s hope this doesn’t follow what happened back then.
This weekend will be the final duck season of any kind in the State of Tennessee until next year with the youth waterfowl hunt on Reelfoot Lake Saturday and Sunday.
The youth must be between the ages of 6 and 15. An adult at least 21 years of age must accompany the youth hunter into the field and must remain in a position to take control of the hunting device. The adult accompanying the young hunter may not hunt ducks but may participate in other open seasons. Geese, coots, gallinules, moorhens and ducks, including pintails, may be taken by youths during Youth Waterfowl Season.
I want to share now about what was taking place around these parts 200 years ago this past week.
I guess we could say that this past Tuesday, Reelfoot Lake and surrounding area received the third and final strong earthquake, which put the final touches on producing Reelfoot Lake. This now being the 200th year officially.
I did some research on that timeline during the three quakes and here is what I found.
This sequence of three very large earthquakes is usually referred to as the New Madrid earthquakes, after the Missouri town that was the largest settlement on the Mississippi River between St. Louis and Natchez, Miss. On the basis of the large area of damage (600,000 square kilometers), the widespread area of perceptibility (5,000,000 square kilometers), and the complex physiographic changes that occurred, the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-12 rank as some of the largest in the United States since its settlement by Europeans. They were, by far, the largest east of the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. and Canada.
The area of strong shaking associated with these shocks is two to three times as large as that of the 1964 Alaska earthquake and 10 times as large as that of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Because there were no seismographs in North America at that time, and very few people in the New Madrid region, the estimated magnitudes of this series of earthquakes vary considerably and depend on modern researchers’ interpretations of journals, newspaper reports and other accounts of the ground shaking and damage.
The first principal earthquake, magnitude 7.7, occurred at about 2:15 a.m. in northeast Arkansas on Dec. 16, 1811. The second principal shock, magnitude 7.5, occurred in Missouri on Jan. 23, 1812, and the third, magnitude 7.7, on Feb. 7, 1812, along the Reelfoot fault in Missouri and Tennessee. The earthquake ground shaking was not limited to these principal main shocks, as there is evidence of a fairly robust aftershock sequence. The first and largest aftershock occurred on Dec. 16, 1811 at about 7:15 a.m. At least three other large aftershocks are inferred from historical accounts on Dec. 16-17. These three events are believed to range between M6.0 and 6.5 in size and to be located in Arkansas and Missouri. This would make a total of seven earthquakes of magnitude magnitudes of 6.0 up to a 7.7 occurring in the period Dec. 16, 1811 through Feb. 7, 1812. More than 200 moderate to large aftershocks in the New Madrid region between Dec. 16, 1811, and March 15, 1812: 10 of these were greater than about 6.0; about 100 were between magnitudes 5.0 and 5.9; and 89 were in the magnitude 4 range. It was also noted that about 1,800 earthquakes of about magnitudes 3.0 to 4.0 during the same period.
The first earthquake of Dec. 16, 1811 caused only slight damage to man-made structures, mainly because of the sparse population in the epicentral area.
The earthquakes caused the ground to rise and fall, bending the trees until their branches intertwined and opening deep cracks in the ground. Deep-seated landslides occurred along the steeper bluffs and hillsides; large areas of land were uplifted permanently; and still larger areas sank and were covered with water that erupted through fissures or craterlets. Huge waves on the Mississippi River overwhelmed many boats and washed others high onto the shore. High banks caved and collapsed into the river; sand bars and points of islands gave way; whole islands disappeared. Surface fault rupturing from these earthquakes has not been detected and was not reported, however.
The region most seriously affected was characterized by raised or sunken lands, fissures, sinks, sand blows, and large landslides that covered an area extending from Cairo, Ill., to Memphis, and from Crowley’s Ridge in northeastern Arkansas to Chickasaw Bluffs, Tenn. Only one life was lost in falling buildings at New Madrid, but chimneys were toppled and log cabins were thrown down as far distant as Cincinnati, Ohio, St. Louis and in many places in Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee.
The Lake County uplift, about 50 kilometers long and 23 kilometers wide, stands above the surrounding Mississippi River Valley by as much as 10 meters in parts of southwest Kentucky, southeast Missouri, and northwest Tennessee. The uplift apparently resulted from vertical movement along several, ancient, subsurface faults. Most of the uplift occurred during prehistoric earthquakes. A strong correlation exists between modern seismicity and the uplift, indicating that stresses that produced the uplift may still exist today.
Within the Lake County uplift, Tiptonville dome, which is about 14 kilometers in width and 11 kilometers in length, shows the largest upwarping and the highest topographic relief. It is bounded on the east by 3-mile high Reelfoot scarp. Although most of Tiptonville dome formed between 200 and 2,000 years ago, additional uplifting deformed the northwest and southeast parts of the dome during the earthquakes of 1811-12.
A notable area of subsidence that formed during the Feb. 7, 1812, earthquake is Reelfoot Lake, just east of Tiptonville dome on the downdropped side of the Reelfoot scarp. Subsidence there ranged from 1.5 to 6 meters, although larger amounts were reported.
Large waves (seiches) were generated on the Mississippi River by seismically-induced ground motions deforming the riverbed. Local uplifts of the ground and water waves moving upstream gave the illusion that the river was flowing upstream. Ponds of water also were agitated noticed.
One hundred years after Reelfoot’s chaotic creation, Night Riders took to mask-and-gown to save their livelihood of commercial fishing from the drain-the-lake intentions of the West Tennessee Land Co. This year-long series of events only added to the mystery and history of the region.
Now, 200 years later, Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee’s largest natural lake and fish hatchery, is a fisherman’s and hunter’s paradise. Many sportsmen and sportswomen in Mid-America are already aware of its unique history and its bounty of fish and waterfowl. Attraction to eagle watchers, birders, photographers, historians, geologists, biologists and artists is also growing.
Many did take advantage of this great weather before things changed on Wednesday of this week.
On the lake
The crappie reports seem to have picked up with the recent warm spell but the warmth has seemed to have left us for a few days. Most folks are either fishing with jigs or minnow. What ever you have confidence in is what you should try and if that doesn’t work, switch to the other bait.
My dad and one of his fishing partners fished Monday and Tuesday, boating a nice grade of crappie and several in numbers.
Water temps were holding in the upper 40s to just above 50 degrees. That has since changed with water temps falling back down into the mid- to possiblly lower 40s.
Our friend Charles Cavender reports the bass and crappie are biting pretty good down at Crockett Lake near Rives. The water is a good color for a cloudy day but on a bright sunny day, the water may be just a little too clear.
He also wants to remind folks to take care of their lakes and bodies of waters by bringing their trash to the bank and carry home, don’t throw into the waters of Crockett lake or any other body of water for that matters.
Up at Kentucky Lake, the fishing continues to be very good, especially the bass fishing and for this time of year, it is a bonus. Crappie and bass both are biting with most crappie being caught on jigs with a few minnows mixed in. The bass fishing has been above average for most to say the least. Two things that I think has helped: one is the water temperature have been much above normal. Second is that there has been a presence of current most all winter due to the winter rains.
A few area churches will be hosting outdoor and wild game suppers in the next several weeks. I hope to have some information to pass along to you folks in next week’s column.
If you have anything pertaining to the outdoors and want to share that with our readers, please contact me or the folks at the Messenger. I can be reached at 731-446-3678 or by e-mailing me at email@example.com.
Til next week’s column,
Catch ya on the water folks
Brent Published in The Messenger 2.10.12