Hey, anyone up for some "end of the world as we know it" stuff?
Do a little bit of reading about the New Madrid fault and the earthquake of 1811.
Some sections of the Mississippi River appeared to run backward for a short time. Sand blows were common throughout the area, and can still be seen from the air in cultivated fields. The shockwaves propagated efficiently through midwestern bedrock. Residents as far away as Pittsburgh and Norfolk were awakened by intense shaking. Church bells were reported to ring as far as Boston, Massachusetts and York, Ontario (now Toronto), and sidewalks were reported to have been cracked and broken in Washington, D.C. There were also reports of toppled chimneys in Maine.
The zone remains active today. In recent decades minor earthquakes have continued. New forecasts estimate a 7 to 10 percent chance, in the next 50 years, of a repeat of a major earthquake like those that occurred in 1811–1812, which likely had magnitudes of between 7.5 and 8.0. There is a 25 to 40 percent chance, in a 50-year time span, of a magnitude 6.0 or greater earthquake.
In a report filed in November 2008, The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that a serious earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone could result in "the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States," further predicting "widespread and catastrophic" damage across Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and particularly Tennessee, where a 7.7 magnitude quake or greater would cause damage to tens of thousands of structures affecting water distribution, transportation systems, and other vital infrastructure.
The potential for the recurrence of large earthquakes and their impact today on densely populated cities in and around the seismic zone has prompted research devoted to understanding in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. By studying evidence of past quakes and closely monitoring ground motion and current earthquake activity, scientists attempt to understand their causes and recurrence intervals.
The lack of apparent land movement along the New Madrid fault system has long puzzled scientists. In 2009 two studies based on eight years of GPS measurements indicated that the faults were moving at no more than 0.2 millimetres (0.0079 in) a year. This contrasts to the rate of slippage on the San Andreas Fault which averages up to 37 millimetres (1.5 in) a year across California.
What this quake essentially did was to treat the center/east of the country like it was a gong. Two hundred years ago a seismic event of this magnitude wasn't capable of extinguishing catastrophic numbers of human lives because there weren't any here in big numbers. What a difference 200 years makes. Take a quicky look at a map and identify all of the big population centers that are in the immediate vicinity of the fault. Pretty scary, huh? This isn't an "if" situation but rather a "when" sort of thing. I hope I'm not around when it happens.
There is geological/archeological evidence that suggests that the New Madrid fault has a cyclical pattern that repeats every 200 years or so. Now let's see, 1811 plus 200 is...
More info here.
Lots of info with additional links here.