Craton map with Shields 
Craton map 
The North American Craton is a large part of what most people think is a single solid plate; the North American tectonic plate. In fact, the craton is actually made up of even smaller "shields" which comprise the craton.
The central "pivot point" of the craton is the New Madrid fault zone which is centered on the New Madrid region of Missouri. If it breaks loose the potential is extreme for a massive incident. There have been several midsized quakes since 2014, but none have come close to the disaster that occurred in 1812 (see the link) when the Mississippi river flowed backwards for two days. It has long been believed that a major quake at New Madrid would bifurcate the US with water (see the map).

Few US citizens know that the craton and its many hidden volcanic buttes and fault zones run basically up the entire east coast along the Appalachian Trail.
North American Craton
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