Most of us have heard of the New Madrid Earthquake Zone (NMSZ), located in western Kentucky. The NMSZ is the best-known seismic zone affecting Kentucky, thanks to the spectacular series of quakes it generated in 1811-1812, but it’s not the only one. The Wabash Valley Seismic Zone, located in southeastern Illinois and southwestern Indiana, is also capable of producing New Madrid-sized earthquake events. Smaller fault lines and other subterranean features can generate earthquakes at any time, anywhere throughout Kentucky.
A catastrophic earthquake in the NMSZ would impact not only Kentucky, but several surrounding states as well. A worst-case event would devastate Memphis and St. Louis and cause major infrastructure damage and loss of life throughout the region. The Wabash Valley Seismic Zone could generate similar damage in its region. The overall impact could make previous disasters pale in comparison.
As a part of Earthquake Awareness Week, Kentuckians and millions across the nation will participate in an earthquake drill at 10:16 a.m. on Thursday, October 16. The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut Earthquake Safety Drill is a self-triggering drill designed to educate school children and the general public on what to do in the event of an earthquake. Participants are asked to register for the drill online at http://www.shakeout.org/centralus/register/.
Those unable to participate in the drill on the designated date and time may conduct the test at another time to suit their schedule.
A survey will be available for completion by Kentucky participants for evaluation of the program and ways to improve awareness and emergency notification methods. It can be found at www.bit.ly/2014EQDrillSurvey.
For additional links to the survey, earthquake safety and preparedness, and earthquake science, please visit the Earthquake Program page on KYEM’s website at http://kyem.ky.gov/programs/Pages/Earthquake.aspx, where you can also follow KYEM on social media. You also can learn more about earthquakes on Be Ready Lexington’s blog and earthquake resource page.
Update: Shortly after publishing this post, we received the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) daily briefing. Yesterday, a magnitude 4.3 quake occurred near Cushing, Oklahoma – a further reminder that earthquakes can happen anywhere, anytime. China’s Yunnan Province also suffered a magnitude 6.0 quake on the same day.