U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson (MO-08) Monday congratulated the University of Missouri-Rolla and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Mid-Continent Geographical Sciences Center in Rolla on their new partnership to better predict the affects of floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
“This new partnership shows the value of UMR and USGS to our community in Rolla. We emphasize cooperation and a strong work ethic to bring outstanding new technologies and ideas to life in Missouri,” Emerson said. “I am particularly excited about the timeliness of this venture and the potentially life-saving application of these computerized maps both before and after natural disasters. We have a lot of dedicated people at UMR and USGS in Rolla, they have tremendous ideas and the know-how to put them into action. This is a great opportunity, and I want to congratulate both organizations.”
The partnership was announced Monday, Oct. 10, during a signing ceremony on the UMR campus. It draws on the expertise of the USGS center and UMR’s Natural Hazards Mitigation Institute to address the affects of natural hazards such as Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the Gulf Coast in late August. Under the agreement, the two organizations will gather data from recent events, such as Katrina, and develop computerized maps and other tools to help local, state and federal agencies deal with various natural disasters.
The partnership was one of three announced during Monday’s signing ceremony. The two organizations also signed agreements that will allow UMR to use a special research facility at the USGS complex, located at 1400 Independence Road in Rolla, and to allow a UMR faculty member to conduct landslide and earthquake science research with USGS. Previously, UMR and USGS entered into an agreement that allows the USGS office in Rolla access to the high-bandwidth Internet 2 network through UMR, a member of the Internet 2 consortium.
The UMR-USGS natural hazards partnership is already at work on two projects: an effort to document the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast, led by Emitt C. Witt, director of the USGS’s Mid-Continent Geographical Sciences Center, and the development of a map to help government planners predict landslides.
“UMR and the USGS have been partners since the 1930s, when the USGS first came to Rolla and was housed on this campus,” says Dr. Y.T. Shah, provost of the University of Missouri-Rolla. “I’m proud to take part in announcing this latest partnership, which brings together expertise that, in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, is needed more now than ever.
“This initiative combines the USGS’s unique capabilities in geographic research with UMR’s expertise in a broad array of engineering and science disciplines,” Shah says. “The result is a research effort that will ensure our nation’s first responders better understand the nature of specific natural hazards and are better prepared to deal with them.”
“The USGS is undergoing many changes, but one of the positive mission changes is to focus the science of the agency on prediction, assessment, and mitigation of natural hazards,” says Emitt C. Witt III, director of the MCGSC. “This partnership is a positive step toward that goal and provides a building block for the geographic sciences in cooperation with world-renowned engineering expertise to begin addressing the USGS natural hazard initiative.”
UMR’s Natural Hazards Mitigation Institute was established in 2002 to support research into the problems of natural hazards and raise public awareness related to those hazards. The institute involves faculty from UMR’s departments of civil, architectural and environmental engineering, mining and nuclear engineering, electrical engineering, geological sciences and engineering, and engineering management.