Posted on 21 April 2010 by
Reposted from: Kate Stacy
(Springfield, MO) — A devastating earthquake like the one in Haiti could happen here.
A minor quake just 200 miles away in Northeast Arkansas Wednesday afternoon is a reminder that we are not immune.
The New Madrid fault line runs through Eastern Missouri and three other states. Experts say any big movement there might impact millions of people.
But when will it happen and how will it affect us? Tracking and preparing for it is no small feat.
For 200 years, the earth below the town of New Madrid has been something of a sleeping giant.
“Certainly New Madrid is something to be aware of and concerned about,” says Dr. Doug Gouzie, MSU professor of Geography, Geology and Planning.
Earthquakes in the early 1800s have become somewhat legendary in the area, leaving people wondering, when will the giant awaken? Scientists like Gouzie say it’s hard to tell.
“Everything we know about New Madrid, it’s going to happen. It’s just a function of when,” says Gouzie.
It’s something scientists monitor with high-tech equipment. A simple model shows what an anticipated 7.7 magnitude quake could do.
“The closer to the center of the quake you are, the more effect it will have on short buildings. The farther away, the more effect on tall buildings,” explains Gouzie.
So where would that leave Springfield?
“We’re on the edge of the risk. The rocks here are fairly stable and solid,” says Gouzie. “In the big picture, Springfield’s in good shape, but much of our state may have bigger effects.”
And that has emergency managers like Larry Woods making plans.
“Becoming a staging point for efforts going into the New Madrid area,” says Woods, Assistant Director at the Greene County Office of Emergency Management.
Responders would use the Ozarks to ready much-needed crews and supplies. Research out of Virginia Tech shows a large scale New Madrid quake could result in 80,000, 3,500 fatalities and millions of people displaced. It has crews asking locals to be prepared.
“We like 72-hour, 96-hour kits; a tub full of supplies to sustain yourself,” says Woods. “We preach be as sustainable as possible. The more you take care of yourself, we can help people who can’t.”
The last statewide earthquake drill was in 2007. Emergency managers say there are plans for another, as well as, a national earthquake drill in the next few years.
There’s no way to precisely predict when the big New Madrid quake will happen. But, there’s lots of research out there. People KOLR/KSFX spoke with say the best information is within the next 50 to 150 years. One stat says there’s a 20 to 40 percent chance of a 6.0 quake on that fault line in the next 50 years.
As for the impact in Springfield, it would feel like a large truck rumbling by and some older buildings might show some cracks. The biggest thing we’d see is the relief effort deploying from here.