Formation of Reelfoot not so simple says Smith
Posted: Monday, March 1, 2010 9:07 pm
By JOHN BRANNON
The formation of Reelfoot Lake was not as simple as the public generally believes.
So says retired biology professor Wintfred L. Smith of Martin, a former faculty member of the University of Tennessee at Martin. Smith retired in 2001.
“The generally offered explanation for the formation of Reelfoot Lake is that it was suddenly formed by the earthquakes of 1811-1812,” he said. “The fact is, there was some meanders of the Mississippi River in those channels before the earthquakes. (It was) scars left by meandering of the Mississippi River. There were some basins filled with water, probably. However, the earthquake did affect it but probably wasn’t the single mechanism involved in its formation.”
Smith comes well qualified to field such observations. Not only did he teach biology in UTM classrooms many years, he was also associated with the Reelfoot Lake Research and Teaching Center located in Samburg. He has taken many students on field trips on the lake.
And there’s one more thing in his resumé.
“I’ve been working on Reelfoot Lake, meaning I’m putting together a book,” he said. “It’s been going on for years. It’s going to be a few months (before I’m finished). I’m anxious to get it done.”
Smith emphasized he does not want to be misquoted.
“I’m saying there were some basins there probably before the earthquakes of 1811-1812,” he said. “They may not have been as big as they are now. We know for a fact some subsidence did occur, along the Blue Basin area, especially.
“I have said some of the Reelfoot Lake basins are probably the result of meandering scarring, yes. I think that’s probably true.
“The formation of the lake was not as simple as the public generally believes.”
Published in The Messenger 3.1.10