Public Release: 

Central Mississippi River Valley 'wasn't always so placid and dull'

Geological Society of America


IMAGE: This is the cover of The Geological Society of Americ's Special Paper 455, "Adventures through Deep Time: The Central Mississippi River Valley and Its Earthquakes, " by Roy Van Arsdale. view more

Credit: Geological Society of America

Boulder, CO, USA - This new volume from The Geological Society of America presents the geologic history of the central Mississippi River Valley and the surrounding area from Precambrian through Holocene times. Its focal point is the New Madrid seismic zone that both threatens and intrigues. Written to engage a wide range of geologists, from beginners to those thinking of conducting research in the Mississippi River Valley, the book's conversational style makes it a pleasure to read.

The book begins with a brief presentation of the geologic history of the southeastern United States, and subsequent chapters expand upon particular periods of time, discussing the most important regional geologic events and how those events affected the central Mississippi River Valley. The concluding chapters discuss the geology and seismology of the New Madrid seismic zone, updating readers on Mississippi Valley's past earthquakes.

Author Roy Van Arsdale's (Univ. of Memphis) engaging style is readily evident in this sample from the book's preface: Have you traveled along Interstate 40 between Memphis, Tennessee, and Little Rock, Arkansas? Do you remember the trip, or did you put your car on cruise control and catch some shuteye? Unless you find cotton, rice, or bean fields exciting, this is a flat, boring, landscape today. Except for the small rise at Crowley's Ridge, you are traversing the central Mississippi River Valley for nearly 150 km. It wasn't always so placid and dull. Park your car, let's say on the Mississippi River bluffs at Memphis, and take a trip with me back through geologic time ... Along the way, you will see the initial construction of the southeastern United States 3.5 [billion years] ago, formation of the Appalachian and Ouachita Mountains, and how the Mississippi Embayment formed, and you will explore the mystery of the great New Madrid, Missouri, earthquakes that tore up the Mississippi River Valley during the winter of 1811-1812.


Individual copies of the volume may be purchased through the Geological Society of America online bookstore,, or by contacting GSA Sales and Service,

Book editors of earth science journals/publications may request a review copy by contacting Jeanette Hammann,

Adventures through Deep Time: The Central Mississippi River Valley and Its Earthquakes
by Roy Van Arsdale
Geological Society of America Special Paper 455
2009, 107 pages plus CD-ROM, US$34.00, GSA member price US$45.00
ISBN 978-0-8137-2455-3

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