Experts Calm Fears About Earthquakes

MAY 5, 2004 - Posted at 5:51 p.m. CDT

MEMPHIS, TN - Earthquake experts at the University of Memphis have been comforting children worried after watching the NBC mini-series 10.5 this week.

At the university's Center for Earthquake Research in Information, Gary Patterson says the TV program "makes some children afraid when they shouldn't be."

Patterson has been telling schoolchildren about how seismologists measure fault lines, such as the New Madrid Fault that runs down the Mississippi Valley.

He says a boy from Gurdon, Arkansas, asked him if south Arkansas could fall into the ocean and if tidal waves could wipe out all surrounding areas.

Patterson says he tells kids "that's mostly just in the movies."

Memphis is about 50 miles south of the epicenter of one of the largest earthquakes ever to strike in North America.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)