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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

ShakeOut - Coming to a home, school or business near you

Today’s blog comes from Dr. Mike Conway, Chief of the Geologic Extension Service of the Arizona Geological Survey. Dr. Conway is a volcanologist with an expertise in small-volume basaltic systems, such as the San Francisco volcanic field near Flagstaff, Ariz. Mike has worked at the Arizona Geological Survey since 2007.  Prior to that, he was a Professor of Earth Sciences at Arizona Western College for nearly a decade. He received his Ph.D. from Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich.

Twenty million two hundred thousand and counting! That’s the number of people enrolled, so far, in the Great ShakeOut, ‘Drop, Cover, and Hold On’, earthquake preparedness exercise scheduled for Oct. 15, 2015.

People from 40 U.S. States, U.S. territories, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Colombia and Italy, among others, are taking part in ShakeOut 2015. California leads all participating states with over 10,000,000 people registered.  More than 73,000 people are registered, including more than 40,000 school-age children, and 20,000 university students and faculty, to participate in the Great Arizona ShakeOut.

So why ShakeOut in Arizona? Because large and small magnitude earthquakes are a common occurrence in the western U.S. A small magnitude earthquake feels like a sudden jolt and the ground shaking lasts for a mere second or two. But the ground shaking that accompanies a larger magnitude earthquake – say a magnitude 7 - can last for more than a minute and collapse bridges, damage buildings, destroy roads, and injure or kill people.

In Arizona, large magnitude earthquakes are rare. But they can occur, and just as importantly they happen with greater frequency in surrounding states – California, Utah and Nevada – and Mexico. Yuma, has a population of 100,000 and is located just 60 miles east of the San Andreas Fault system--one of North America’s most active and dangerous faults. “Drop, Cover, and Hold on” is  a strategy employed by Yumans to minimize injuries and stay safe.

We cannot predict when or where the next major earthquake will happen. The science is simply not there, and it’s not even close. But we know where major fault systems lie, and we know what areas are more likely to be impacted by severe ground shaking. Our first, best strategy is to prepare our families, homes and business for the impact of a large earthquake through drills and exercises like the Great Arizona ShakeOut.

Kids ShakeOut 2012
Please join the Arizona Geological Survey and the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, and 73,000 of your neighbors in participating in the Great Arizona ShakeOut at 10:15 a.m. on Oct. 15.

Some online resources:
·         The AZGS YouTube channel has earthquake and fault videos, including a 90-second, time-lapse video and a webisode titled “Earthquakes in Arizona 1852-2011.”

·         Arizona is Earthquake Country” is a 44-page earthquake primer with maps, pictures and illustrations (8.5 Mb)

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