Earthquake Crew Shakes Up Region 8

May 16, 2006--Posted at 4:00 pm CST

Lepanto, AR --In 1811 through 1812 a series of heavy earthquakes not only devastated this area but were felt across the entireUnited States.  The quakes were the strongest ever recorded in the United States and while little activity has been felt since, scientists know it is only a matter of time until the next ‘big one’ is felt in the region.

For years the areas extensive fault lines have been overlooked by researchers looking for clues into how earthquakes form and what type of damage they can incur, but now researchers have descended on the region to learn as much as possible from the New Madrid fault.  About twenty men and women are working near Lepanto in Poinsett Co. mapping a fault that runs underneath HWY 140.  The fault is just one of many faults that concern scientist.

‘This is the first of a multi-year study in the area.’ United States Geological Survey Head Robert Williams says.  ‘We hope in the end this will help researchers understand better the processes that help make up this region and be able to forecast what parts are in the most danger of being damaged.’

The process today is simple.  Scientists are creating small earthquakes using a vibration tool parked on the back of a truck.  The vibrations can only be felt by humans standing just around the truck but tiny sensors set out which can detect the vibrations from up to a half a mile a way.  These sensors then relay this data to another truck parked up the road.  The data is compiled by the computer which makes a detailed map of what is underneath the soil.  This process is important because scientist say very little evidence remains that a large earthquake occurred a ‘relatively’ short time ago.