University Presentation Showcase: Undergraduate Poster Gallery



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Homeland security and Geographic Information Science






Haley Cabaniss

Mentor Department



The New Madrid Seismic Zone is a seismically active region bordering the states of Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri. Typically, several hundred earthquakes occur within the New Madrid each year, though most are low-magnitude events ranging from MW 0-3. The most notable New Madrid Earthquakes consisted of three Mw 7-8 earthquakes on the Reelfoot Fault that took place over several months in 1811 and 1812. The area of damage that surrounded the fault is estimated to be around 600,000 km2 and the area of perceptibility is estimated to be 5,000,000 km2. The result of these strong earthquakes was complex and widespread physiographic changes that still affect the area today. These large events took place at a time when the Midwest population was sparse, and infrastructure was limited. Today, more than 1 million people live within the New Madrid Seismic Zone in scattered large cities, and that population is growing rapidly. With a recurrence interval of ~500 years, future Mw 7-8 earthquakes pose a much greater risk to this growing population. We Utilize modern GIS techniques along with the Federal Emergency Management Agencies Hazus program to analyze the effect of a modern-day 1811-1812 magnitude earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Specifically, we Generate maps to predict damage, analyze hazards and threats presented, and highlight locations that would be most affected by this event throughout Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee. We found that out of the roughly 769 counties that fall within the study region only about 75 would be affected by ground shaking when compared to an earthquake with the same parameters of the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes. Using the analysis generated in hazus information on building or critical infrastructure damage and the financial repercussions of the damage generated by this earthquake event will be analyzed using a small scale social vulnerability assessment and risk analysis throughout the study region.