Could an earthquake in Haiti trigger one in Region 8?

By Justin Logan - bio | email feedback

Jonesboro, AR (KAIT) - There are roughly 200 earthquakes within the New Madrid Seismic Zone every year, but researchers say predicting them is a whole new science.

Gary Patterson with the University of Memphis Center for Earthquake Research and Information said earthquakes are hard to pin down.

Patterson said, "We can't predict earthquakes to any real specific time slot. We can give areas and probabilities."

The earthquake in Haiti on Tuesday registered 7.0 on the Richter Scale. The big question remains can that spark more earthquakes in other parts of the world? In our case the New Madrid Seismic Zone which stretches from Marked Tree, Arkansas to southern Illinois.

Patterson said, "Ultimately we don't know what the influence of that earthquake is on the New Madrid Seismic Zone. However, based on history, it's very unlikely that it would cause any kind of additional activity in our area."

Large earthquakes can trigger other earthquakes in a nearby fault system that's already charged up or ready to break. Patterson said that's one thing they don't know about the New Madrid Fault.

There have been large magnitude earthquakes in the New Madrid system in the past. Patterson said that Arkansas is working hard to prepare for the future by installing new seismic instruments.

Patterson said, "The more instruments that we put in the more we learn about how the pulse of the New Madrid Seismic Zone acts. We want to know when that pulse changes and we want to see what those trends are."

At home you can prepare for an earthquake by having an emergency preparedness kit that can serve you for 72 hours. But you need to know what to do.

Patterson said, "Not only an immediate plan, what are we going to do if there is an earthquake in the house a family plan. But also a community plan."

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