String of earthquakes is coincidental, experts say

First a massive earthquake in Haiti, then a bigger one in Chile.

And now a quake hits southeast Missouri and people 150 miles away feel it.

Time to panic?

No, but people are understandably jittery about earthquakes these days.

And, in fact, a big one may be coming to the New Madrid Seismic Zone that affects Missouri. The earthquake that struck Tuesday afternoon had a magnitude of 3.7, which is greater than usual but not alarmingly so, experts say.

J. David Rogers of the Missouri University of Science and Technology said a quake of that magnitude occurs about once every five years, while the region may experience hundreds of much smaller quakes a year.

Also, the quakes in the Caribbean and in South America had nothing to do with the one in Missouri.

"There really isn't an interconnection as far as plate tectonics goes," said Dave Gaunt, a Rolla-based geohazards geologist for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. "It's more of a coincidence."

Another coincidence: That the huge Haiti and Chile quakes occurred so close in time.

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