Since that day in 1541 when Hernando Desoto and his men first saw the Mississippi,
western civilization has been interested in mapping the mighty river. More than 450
years later, those who deal with the Mississippi River on a daily basis—river pilots,
engineers, scientists, and others—are intimately familiar with the surface of the
Mississippi and the land that surrounds it; however, little is known about what lies
beneath the surface.
The Mississippi River Seismic Survey is a project that plans to do just that. Over
a time of 5 years and with the help of the U. S. Corps of Engineers, a group of researchers
from the University of Memphis and the University of Texas at Austin plan to lift
the veil of mystery that lies underneath the stretch of the Mississippi River between
Cape Girardeau, MO and Greenville, MS. The researchers hope to begin answering the
- How old is the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ)?
- Has the NMSZ been the only seismogenic zone in the Embayment or is the seismicity
moving around different locations?
- Do as-yet undiscovered, active fault lines run under the Mississippi River?
- Water seeks the lowest point. Does the Mississippi river flow the way that it does
because fault lines running the length of the river have shaped where those lowest
- How do the Mississippi River and the aquifer interact with each other?
Follow the researchers on their journey as they post photos and journal entries on