The dots inside the oval in this U.S. map indicate earthquakes that took place within the New Madrid seismic zone.

Quake Evaluators Assessing New Madrid Risks April 16

With a whole lotta shakin' going on this month about earthquake preparedness, the USGS National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council will meet in Memphis -- part of the New Madrid seismic zone.

Where better for the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council to meet than Memphis, Tenn., on April 16? When the council meets that day at the Crowne Plaza Memphis Downtown, it will receive the report of an independent expert panel charged with assessing the likelihood of future large earthquakes in the New Madrid seismic zone, which includes Memphis and parts of several states surrounding Tennessee.

The possibility of a major destructive earthquake in the zone remains a concern, according to USGS. The best-known major quakes occurred during 1811-12, and USGS says the geologic record indicates repeated earthquakes, several of magnitude 7 to 8, occurred there in the past 4,500 years.

More than 1.7 million people in states surrounding the zone have registered to take part in The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut at 10:15 a.m. on April 28. (Indiana is conducting its ShakeOut April 19, however.) The event is linked with the May 16-20 National Level Exercise of a New Madrid zone scenario.

The council may be briefed on recent earthquake swarms in Arkansas, on the communication of seismic hazards in the Pacific Northwest, on the project to deliver an updated Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast in summer 2012, and on Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The meeting is open to the public; registration by April 13 is requested. For information, contact Dr. Michael Blanpied, executive secretary of the council, in Reston, Va. at 703-648-6696 or mblanpied@usgs.gov.

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