Experts Fear Quake Awareness Will Fade
Associated Press

As reported in the Herald Times

Published June 24, 2002


EVANSVILLE - Some experts worry that earthquake safety will soon be just as undetectable on people's minds as the aftershocks since Tuesday's quake that rattled southern Indiana.

That 5.0 magnitude earthquake caused little damage even though it was felt at least 250 miles away - as far north as South Bend and as far south as Memphis, Tenn.

But don't expect too much talk about the quake.

"It is very short-lived, unfortunately," said Mitch Withers, the seismic network director for the Center for Earthquake Research and Information. "People won't even be thinking about earthquakes within a year."

That bothers Withers because he says those living in the Ohio Valley need to be prepared for damage worse than the scattered instances of broken windows and cracked foundations from Tuesday's quake.

How large an earthquake could be spawned by the Wabash Valley Fault Zone - believed to be the culprit for Tuesday's quake - is up for debate. Withers said residents should be ready for a magnitude 6.0 quake, which could cause severe damage.

Seismologists converged last week on the quake's epicenter near Darmstadt, a small town about 10 miles north of Evansville, in hopes of better pinpointing its exact source.

In the first day after Tuesday's quake, six aftershocks were recorded, all under magnitude 2.0 and undectable by people, said John Hill, associate director for the Indiana Geological Survey.

"I think the fact that we had three quakes in Indiana in 2000, including one near vincennes that was strong enough to knock canned goods off the shelves, and now this one, we can go ahead and say the reagion is seismically active," Hill said.

Greg Steiner, technical director for the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis in Tennessee, said he thought there would be "20 to 50" aftershocks after Tuesday's quake, probably all too slight to be felt by humans.

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