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Professor to present on earthquake preparedness

Submitted by Ryan P.C. McQuen on October 29, 2010 – 12:02 pmOne Comment

Earthquakes are devastating. However, with little effort one can be safe for weeks in a disaster, rather than a burden to rescue officials, according to Wendi J.W. Williams.

Wendi J.W. Williams, who goes by ‘W-cubed,’ will present at the annual GSA meeting in Denver. Courtesy of Wendi Williams.

Williams, assistant professors of earth sciences, will present at the national Geological Society of America Annual Meeting and Exposition Oct. 31 -Nov. 3 in Denver.

Williams’ presentation will show how geologists can help industry, state agency, academia, military and emergency officials with earthquake preparation.

The presentation is compiled by Scott M. Ausbrooks of the Arkansas Geological Survey(USGS), UALR Earth Sciences Chair Jeffrey B. Connelly, James M. Wilkinson of the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium and Williams.

What can the UALR community do? There are two important proactive measures. First, prepare for a disaster. An article on emergency supplies needed is available at www.usgs.gov.

The other contribution citizen scientists can make is to report any seismic activity they feel at earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/dyfi/ (the “Did You Feel It?” webpage) using the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale.

The Mercalli scale uses general terms of what household items would shake, or how one would describe an earthquake outside of a Richter scale reading. The USGS website has a description of the 12 levels of the Mercalli scale.

According to the Arkansas Geological Survey website, funding recently allowed for “six state-of-the-art permanent broadband seismic stations” to be installed underground at various state parks across Arkansas. This allows the geo-scientific community a great amount of analytical data. Funding was approved after the “Magnet Cove earthquake swarm in 2008.”

Almost two-hundred years ago, on Dec. 16, 1811, an earthquake reported as a 7.7 magnitude on the Richter scale hit the New Madrid region of Midwest America, including Arkansas. This earthquake was so powerful it could be felt in Boston.

Researchers like Williams worry an earthquake of this magnitude could happen again, and the sprawling, modern-day construction could cause a significant disaster.

The earthquake in 1811 changed the flow of Mississippi river, Williams said. Williams expressed concern with the lack of geology in the K-12 school system.

The number of geoscientists is diminishing. “Over the next 15 years, we’re looking at approximately 45,000 to 60,000 vacancies due to retirement,” Williams said.

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