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College of Engineering hosts earthquake awareness and preparedness seminar

Oct. 1, 2008 -- A one-day program designed to raise awareness of the hazard level of the New Madrid seismic zone (NMSZ) is the main focus of the Earthquake Awareness and Preparedness conference to be hosted Tuesday, Oct. 21, by the College of Engineering at Arkansas State University.

The conference, which will be held in the Student Union Auditorium, is directed to government employees at the state, county and city levels, policy and decision makers, professional engineers and concerned citizens.

A pre-registration fee of $25 is required prior to Wednesday, Oct. 1. ASU students may attend for $10. Registration after Oct. 1 is $35 for anyone who isn’t a government employee. Government employees on the city, country, state, and federal levels, should pre-register to attend free of charge. Registration fees include admission to all sessions, continental breakfast, lunch and refreshments. On-site registration and breakfast begin at 7:30 a.m.

“This one-day event is designed to raise the awareness level and help people across the spectrum to better understand the nature of the seismic hazard,” said Dr. Ashraf Elsayed, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at ASU. “It is not going to be too technical, but should help the participants to be better prepared for a large event, because it is not a matter of if. We know it is coming, we just do not know when.”

Dr. Elsayed stressed that the event is a service to the community.“The frequent occurrence of large earthquakes in the western United States enables scientists and engineers to establish fairly accurate design methods as a result of several observations and calibrations of experimental models. This type of experience is lacking in the New Madrid seismic zone. So, we have a lot to learn. We are currently applying what we learned in the western part of the country to the NMSZ, but significant research effort is still needed.” 

A lineup of experts in the field of seismic studies will participate in the program including Gary Patterson, the information services director of the University of Memphis Center for Earthquake Research and Information; Scott Ausbrooks, a registered professional geologist who currently serves as the geo-hazards and environmental geologist for the Arkansas Geological Survey; and Erica Doerr who received her master’s degree in geology from the University of Arkansas and a bachelor’s degree in earth science with a minor in anthropology from Central Missouri University.

Also participating are Marion Haynes, a station assistant for the Arkansas Archeological Survey, and Mike Calvert, a catastrophic planner for the Central United States Earthquake Consortium in Memphis, Tenn. Arleen Alice Hill earned her doctoral degree in the department of geography at the University of South Carolina and is an assistant professor of the department of earth sciences at the University of Memphis.

Other participants include Richard G. Griffin, who is currently the disaster management division chief of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management; Veronica Villalobos-Pogue who began her career at the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management; and Dr. Shahram Pezeshk, a professor and department head of civil engineering at the University of Memphis, holding the Emison Professorship.

Conference participants will address topics including “The New Madrid Seismic Zone Revisited,” “Geological Hazards and the New Madrid Seismic Zone,” “Archeology and Earthquakes in Northern Arkansas,” “Catastrophic Planning Overview,” “Earthquake Awareness and Preparedness: Foundations for Resilient Communities,” “Planning, Response and Recovery,” and “Site Specific Issues in New Madrid Seismic Zone.” A general discussion will follow.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) is one of the most significant yet mysterious sources in North America.  The fault system in this zone extends from southeastern Missouri to northeastern Arkansas and northwestern Tennessee.  However, an earthquake with a relatively large magnitude in the NMSZ can impact several other states. Although seismic activities take place almost on a daily basis, it has been approximately 200 years since a large earthquake took place in the NMSZ.

For more information, contact the College of Engineering at (870) 972-2088, or see



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