The Account of Daniel Drake

Daniel Drake was a physician living in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the time of the New Madrid earthquakes. His observations, summarized in an Appendix of his 1815 publication, provide some of the most thorough accounts of the sequence -- and make for very interesting reading. (Many authors have relied on Fuller (1912) as a secondary source for this publication.)

I have analyzed some of the events that Drake describes and concluded that they were remotely triggered earthquakes that occurred in the northern Kentucky-southern Ohio region. (See recent abstract). These conclusions hinge partly on the inference that there is a transcription error in Drake's account on page 235 -- the events described on the night of 2/8/1812 were in fact on the night of 2/7/1812. Drake's account of weather conditions (bottom of page 241/top of 242) corroborates this conclusion. The event at 10:40 pm (LT) on 2/7/1812 is inferred to be the biggest remotely triggered earthquake associated with the New Madrid sequence. Drake's detailed description of this event provides key evidence for the interpretation that the event occurred relatively close to Cincinnati.

Drake's observations of strong shaking along river valleys (top of page 238) is possibly the earliest account that not only describes amplification within sedimentary valleys but also provides a qualitatively correct explanation for the effect ("The strata in both vallies are loose.")


Drake, Daniel, Natural and statistical view, or picture of Cincinnati and the Miami County, illustrated by maps,
Looker and Wallace, Cincinnati, 1815.

pages 233
pages 234-235
pages 236-237
pages 238-239
pages 240-241
pages 242-243
pages 244-245
pages 246-247