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The 5.6 magnitude earthquake that shook central Oklahoma Saturday night has left some folks wondering if future seismic activity could impact the Ozarks. KSMU’s Samuel Crowe spoke with a member of the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, or SEMA (see-muh), and has this report.
The big question for both residents and scientists is whether or not the recent earthquake in Oklahoma will spark more activity amongst Midwestern fault lines, most notably the New Madrid fault in southeast Missouri. I spoke with Steve Besemer, the Earthquake Program Manager for SEMA. He says geologists are still debating whether or not seismic activity in certain areas cause fault movement elsewhere.
“Can a release of pressure in one area cause more pressure to be built up in a neighboring fault? There’s just different schools of thought on that in the scientific community,” Besemer said.
Besemer says that while Springfield is located atop a solid bed of limestone, that doesn’t necessarily mean the city is protected from earthquakes. He says any damage occurring in the Ozarks will be due to poor infrastructure and proximity to river valleys, where the soil is less stable. He says the potential for widespread damage is far less than in areas such as Saint Louis and Memphis.
“The limestone rock is very good at taking that energy over a wide area in a very short amount of time. But it doesn’t really necessarily add to the shaking effects when those energy waves come up to the surface. You are more likely going to be affected by how far away you are from the earthquake, by if you have the softer, wetter soil that sometimes will make the shaking worse, and you’re also going to be affected by what kind of building you’re in,” Besemer said.
Besemer says it’s a good idea to know what to do in an earthquake, and he urges residents to learn as much as they can about it. For KSMU News, I’m Samuel Crowe.