February 15, 1974
A series of three earthquakes accompanied with sounds that resembled sonic booms or explosions occured near Malvern, Arkansas on Friday, February 15, 1974. Saint Louis University recorded three distinct tremors with the first (3.3 magnitude) at 5:33 p.m., the second (3.4 magnitude) at 5:36 p.m., and the third (3.8 magnitude) at 5:49 p.m. The epicenter was about 5 kilometers (3 miles) due south of Malvern.
The tremors were felt in Little Rock, Sheridan, Malvern, Hot Springs, Arkadelphia, Hope, Gurdon, Prescott, El Dorado, and Magnolia. In nearby Arkadelphia, the Holiday Inn "shook all over" and a sheriff's deputy in a mobile home reported that the earthquakes "almost shook the trailer off its blocks."
While no damage was reported, there was one severe injury - a truck driver was burned critically during an explosion in an Arkansas oil field. It was thought that one of the tremors caused a leak in a natural gas pipeline. Due to humid foggy conditions, gas may have accumulated close to the ground for about an hour. The explosion was probably triggered by the tractor/trailer that was being driven by the injured individual.
According to Norman F. Williams, state geologist at the time, there were two previous notable earthquakes in the area. An earthquake near Rison in 1911 measuring 7 on the Rossi scale knocked over objects and broke plaster. A later earthquake near Malvern in November 1930 measured 5 on the Rossi scale.
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Arkansas Earthquake Center
College of Science and Engineering Technology
2801 South University
Little Rock AR 72204
Last Updated: October 9, 1998
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