UMR experts in earthquakes, floods and other natural hazards joined together last February to create the UMR Natural Hazards Mitigation Institute, a vehicle for promoting research into natural hazards and raising public awareness.
One of the institute’s first major projects is a two-year, $800,000 study of the potential impact a major earthquake along the New Madrid Fault would have on the bridges and highways of southeast Missouri and the St. Louis area. The project is funded by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and involves the assessment of existing bridges and other highway structures to determine their viability in an earthquake.
The New Madrid Fault is an active seismic zone that includes southeast Missouri and extends into southern Illinois, northeast Arkansas, and parts of Kentucky and Tennessee. The New Madrid Fault derives its name from the Great New Madrid Earthquake of 1811-1812, which occurred along this fault line. According to experts, the highest earthquake risk in the United States outside the West Coast lies along the New Madrid Fault.
Other research projects to be carried out by the NHMI include studies in Missouri’s karst topography, which forms caves, sinkholes and other potential underground hazards; flooding; and the stability of slopes and embankments. Neil Anderson, professor of geology and geophysics at UMR, is the institute’s director.