Earthquake Seminar Being Held in Jonesboro

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -Is the New Madrid Seismic Zone still able to produce a large magnitude earthquake?

Some say yes, some say no. ASU is hosting an earthquake seminar to share the latest information on the zone.

Granted there is a school of thought who say the zone is winding down.

But many who are attending the 2 day seminar still think otherwise.

Geologically speaking the New Madrid Zone is very busy with minor shocks occurring all the time.

One of the largest quakes in recent times occurred around Marked Tree in 1976.

Scientists spend lots of time trying to learn more about the area to try and determine if there is a real possibility of a major earthquake occuring again.

Scott Ausbrooks from the Arkansas Geological Survey says there is still lots of study to be done.

"It's harder to see the faults, they're actually buried under 3 Thousand feet of sediment and it's hard to directly measure those and know what's going on exactly so we have to do things remotely."

According to presenters the zone has shown to have had several magnitude 7 or 8 events in the past 4500 years.

Unlike faults on the rim of plates like in California the New Madrid Zone is a weak area in the plate itself.

And a busy one with hundreds of small quakes every year. But a lot more research has to be done.

Dr. Ashraf Elsayed with the ASU Department of Engineering says, "Better data will allow us to do better analysis about impact on structures and life lines."

The two day seminar is focusing on getting the information to government officials who will need this kind of information to make disaster plans.

According to researchers there have been major quakes in 900 and 1450 A.D. and 2350 B.C.

These quakes have been dated by the study of the numerous sand blows in our area.

The late 1800's was the last 6.0 earthquake in the Zone although there was a 5 point near Marked Tree in the 70's.

Ausbrook, "At the same time though if you look at the historical and geological records there's nothing to suggest we shouldn't expect something in the future."

Ausbrooks says in the very near future new seismographs will be installed in several new locations around the state. Some right here in Region 8.

Preparedness is the key for the seminars attendees.

Elsayed, "We need to do everything we can to be prepared. And that takes a lot of effort from state employees, federal employees and the general public. Everybody has to contribute to that. Everything we know as of today is telling us that we should be expecting something of significant magnitude, When we don't know."

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