News Release 012

February is Earthquake Awareness Month in Missouri

Volume 39-012 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

Many Missourians experience small earthquakes weekly, especially in southeast Missouri. To mark earthquake awareness month in Missouri, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the State Emergency Management Agency, the Missouri Seismic Safety Commission and others are partnering during the month of February to provide critical information to Missourians about earthquakes in the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone, located in southeastern Missouri, northeastern Arkansas, western Tennessee, western Kentucky and southern Illinois, is the nation's most active seismic zone east of the Rocky Mountains. The zone cuts across the Mississippi River in three places and the Ohio River in two places. More than 200 small earthquakes occur in the zone each year.

In the winter of 1811-1812, the New Madrid Seismic Zone produced a series of earthquakes estimated at magnitude 7.0 or greater. One of the largest earthquakes in history was centered in the town of New Madrid on Feb. 7, 1812. Nearly 200 years of population growth in the region, which includes metropolitan areas such as St. Louis and Memphis, means that a repeat of the 1812 earthquake could cause considerably more damage.
Geological evidence indicates large earthquakes, like those that occurred 200 years ago are rare. However, more frequent, moderate size earthquakes can be damaging. Geologists with the department are actively conducting hazards mapping projects to better understand impacts from seismic events such as ground collapse, soils liquefaction, landslides and flooding.

The 2011 Tohoku earthquake that occurred in northern Honshu, Japan reached a devastating 9.0 magnitude. “Earthquakes can occur without warning,” said Joe Gillman, state geologist and director of the department’s Division of Geology and Land Survey. “While many earthquakes do not cause loss of life, they are a natural hazard that no one can predict and there are things we can do to be better prepared in the event a damaging earthquake occurs in Missouri."

During Earthquake Awareness Month, the department will participate in the 2nd Annual Great Central U.S. ShakeOut earthquake exercise as well as a number of public activities by providing scientific data about the New Madrid Seismic Zone, mapping for risk assessment, potential earthquake risk for citizens, as well as providing geologic information about the basics of earthquakes. Missourians are encouraged to attend and participate in any of the following public events.
• Saturday, Feb. 4 – St. Louis: Earthquake Awareness Day at St. Louis Science Center will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Explore the science behind earthquakes with local professional groups and businesses through hands-on activities that teach how to prepare homes, families and businesses for an earthquake. Everyone is welcome, and there is no charge.

• Tuesday, Feb. 7 – Across the Central U.S.: The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut! Will take place at 10:15 a.m. CST. More than two million people across nine states will participate in this important earthquake exercise. During the ShakeOut, people across the central U.S. will "Drop, Cover and Hold On" for 60 seconds. Learn more and register today: dnr.mo.gov/shakeout/.

• Saturday, Feb. 18 – Leasburg: Onondaga Cave State Park will host Edie Starbuck, a geologist from the department's Division of Geology and Land Survey at 10:30 a.m. Starbuck will present a program about earthquake basics, history, earthquake preparedness, and the effects earthquakes have had, and will have, on the land and human population. This program will include an introduction to the State Emergency Management Agency programs related to earthquakes. After the program, the video about earthquakes in the Midwest will be shown. There will be time for questions and answers. The park is located seven miles southeast of the Leasburg exit off of U.S. Interstate 44 on State Highway H. The event is free and open to the public.

• Saturday, Feb. 18 – Columbia: “It’s Your Fault,” a conference commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Great New Madrid Earthquakes, will be held from 12:30 to 4 p.m. in Chambers Auditorium at the student center of the University of Missouri-Columbia. The conference speakers will explore what Missouri was like in 1811, what occurred during the earthquakes, what makes New Madrid earthquakes unique, various theories about whether earthquakes of that magnitude will happen again, and, if they do, whether Missouri is ready. A reader's theatre of actual eyewitness accounts from those living in or traveling through the New Madrid area around the time of the 1811-1812 quakes will also be presented. Everyone is welcome, and there is no charge.

• Monday, Feb. 20 – Piedmont: Get Your Home Ready for Earthquakes seminar will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the AARP building on Rt. 34. Experts from the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium and the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency invite the public to this free seminar on the basic principles of earthquake preparedness, and ways you can reduce your risk from earthquakes.

• Saturday, Feb. 25 – Malden: Earthquake Preparedness public program will be presented from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bootheel Youth Museum, 700A N. Douglas St. This awareness event aims to teach citizens about earthquake risks and how to prepare for them. The event will feature displays and information about earthquake history, safety and preparedness. All are welcome, and there’s no charge.

Visit the department's website for more information about these and other events: dnr.mo.gov/geology/eqaware.htm.

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Editor: Photos are available at http://dnr.mo.gov/newsrel/images/eqaware10.jpg