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ASU receives $30,000 grant from State Farm for earthquake susceptibility study

State Farm Insurance News Release

Soil analysis profiles of Jonesboro area could yield helpful data
for city planners, future development

Jonesboro, AR – Arkansas State University has received a $30,000 research grant from State Farm Insurance that will be directed to a research study in the College of Engineering at ASU.

Dr. Shivan Haran (left) and Dr. Ashraf Elsayed explain their project, as Dean Greg Phillips looks on.A research proposal by Ashraf Elsayed, PhD, and Shivan Haran, PhD, entitled “Shear Wave Velocity Profiling and Soil Liquefaction Hazard Analysis” was accepted by State Farm because of the potential deliverables that could result.

Speaking for State Farm, Arkansas spokesman Gary Stephenson stated, “We all know about the New Madrid Fault, and the major quakes two hundred years ago. State Farm is well aware that northeastern Arkansas continues to experience seismic movements regularly.  With Jonesboro being the economic hub for this region of the state, and its proximity to the fault, it makes sense to learn more about the soil make-up and vulnerability potentials in this area.”   Stephenson added, “This is not about raising alarm, but it is about raising awareness, and increasing knowledge on a subject important to everyone that lives and conducts business in this region.  We are pleased to be able to support ASU researchers in this important study.” 

Dr. Gregory Phillips, Dean of the Colleges of Agriculture, and Engineering, said, “We are proud to partner with national companies such as State Farm in order to conduct research in the public interest.  This gift from State Farm allows our faculty and students to acquire the necessary equipment to perform this study throughout Northeast Arkansas, and the results from this study will be beneficial for the preparedness of all residents and industry in the region.”

State Farm, the largest insurer of homes and autos in Arkansas and in the U.S., is also currently supporting earthquake awareness efforts in Missouri and Tennessee. 

The New Madrid Seismic Zone includes eight states—Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Mississippi, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, and Alabama.

Researchers estimate the 1811-1812 New Madrid quakes, which reversed the flow of the Mississippi River and formed Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee, registered magnitudes in the range of 7.5 – 8.0.  A quake near Marked Tree in 1843 was estimated to have a magnitude of 6.0, and a quake in Charleston, Mo., in 1895 has also been placed at an approximate 6.0 magnitude.

State Farm agency director for eastern Arkansas, Johnny Hooks, made the presentation for State Farm at the ASU Judd Hill Center.  Hooks said that he hopes the 12- to 15-month study will provide data that will be helpful to the public and civil sectors as well as the scientific arena.  According to Hooks, State Farm hopes study results might be helpful to those in a variety of disciplines such as city planning, engineering, economic development, construction, building code regulation, transportation, emergency response and others.

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