Seminar to address ways to lessen earthquake damage

The earthquake that hit the lower Midwest on April 18 this year was a hearty 5.2 on the Richter scale and got the attention of the St. Louis region. What if a quake — occurring either in the New Madrid Fault or Wabash Valley Fault — larger than the April quake would hit the region? How would we respond?

To address these concerns, the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Structural Engineering is presenting a series of seminars and workshops on the topic of reducing the damage that would occur when a strong earthquake strikes the area again. The program will cover the subjects of hazards, codes, vulnerability and strengthening of infrastructure. Speakers are practicing engineers, professors and officials with experience in seismic hazard mitigation, especially in Missouri and the surrounding vulnerable region.

The second seminar and workshop in the series, “Damage Reduction through Preparedness,” will be offered from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, in Room 100 Whitaker Hall. The seminar will be presented to an invited audience of public officials at the local and regional level.

“The earthquake threat to Missouri and to much of mid-America is severe, both in terms of loss of life and economic damage,” said Phillip L. Gould, Ph.D., the Harold D. Jolley Professor of Civil Engineering and one of the seminar organizers. “Our intent is to raise awareness about earthquake hazards and preparedness. The sharing of disaster plans by public and utility sectors will enhance awareness and preparedness for the next major event.”

“Earthquakes are the only natural disaster that hit without warning,” said Charles Bryson, St. Louis city director of public safety.

“Due to the destructive nature and ability to tax all systems, especially emergency systems, it is critical that we continually prepare not only first responders but the general populace for this type of emergency,” he said.

All participants in the seminar and workshop will receive handout materials based on the speaker’s presentations.

Similar materials will be available on the program Web site.

The seminar is sponsored by State Farm Insurance, and admission is by invitation. The full agenda, plus keynote speakers and presentation topics, can be viewed at

For more information, contact Renee Pearl at 935-7926.