Future Quakes A Real Possibility In Northwest Arkansas, But Not A Threat

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - Earthquakes are rare in Northwest Arkansas, but that wasn't the case in late 2016, when our area experience two tremors, one in September and November, respectively.

Geosciences experts say these natural phenomena shouldn't be a cause for concern.

It's not the kind of jackpot residents in Northwest Arkansas are interested in claiming.

The earthquakes felt in 2016 -- both over 5.0 in magnitude, raise more questions, than concerns.

Stephen Boss, a Geosciences professor at the University of Arkansas, says tremors are less likely to originate here, as opposed to Oklahoma. 

"Northwest Arkansas is not a region of North America that's seismically active. We don't have earthquakes that originate in this area."  says Boss.

Boss also says, "We've never detected an earthquake originating in our area from any of the seismometers that we have. The probability is not absolutely zero, but the probability of having an earthquake originate here is really, remotely small."

But there was a time where Fayetteville was a more prominent earthquake zone. There are actually two fault lines directly underneath the city. The first, crosses over Dickson Street and Arkansas Avenue and runs northwest to Beaver Lake. The other is in North Fayetteville, near the Northwest Arkansas Mall on Joyce Avenue.

Stephen Boss, Professor, University of Arkansas says, "The landscape of NWA is an ancient landscape. There are lots of faults that criss-cross our region. They're not active faults, they were active once upon a time going back hundreds of millions of years ago. Those faults were places where earthquakes could have been generated. But they're not active right now." 

That's the good news. But with continued underground activity happening in Oklahoma, it could be only a matter of time until the moving and shaking becomes more prominent in northwest Arkansas.


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