Arkansas Center for Earthquake Education and Technology Transfer


Mission of the Arkansas Earthquake Center

D uring the past few years, the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) have established a collaborative program to assist the state of Arkansas in Hazard Mitigation Planning and Public Education. Through this program, the Arkansas Earthquake Center has set three distinct but overlapping tasks for its mission. These include (1) public education, (2) hazard mitigation and (3) scientific research. Each of these tasks will work toward the Project Impact goal of making communities more disaster resistant. Currently, the Arkansas Earthquake Center is collaborating with other regional centers (e.g., St. Louis University, Memphis State University, USGS, and CUSEC) to accomplish its mission. The Arkansas Earthquake Center staff and a number of UALR faculty have committed to actively participate in FEMA's Project Impact.

Arkansas Earthquake Center is located on the campus of UALR and is the continuation of the Arkansas Earthquake Center that was established in 1991. The center is currently supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), ADEM, and UALR with its primary mission of public education and scientific research. Its purpose is to provide a comprehensive earthquake education and technology transfer program in the state of Arkansas and adjacent states. The primary objectives of the center are:

  • To provide earthquake workshops promoting seismic safety, mitigation, education and planning for professional groups.
  • To provide specialized technical training for public building officials, engineers, architects, and construction contractors.
  • To provide an earthquake documents resource to serve the seismic education and technical training needs of the state.
  • To provide an enhanced internet seismic technical data base and educational reference source for students and professionals.
  • To provide assistance to professional education organizations, and scientific and technical groups concerning their needs for seismic education and technology transfer.
  • To establish a distance learning seismic curriculum based educational outreach program for higher education in the state.
  • To provide assistance in designing and developing a curriculum in Integrated Science Education which shall include earthquake mitigation and seismic education. This effort will be coordinated through the Arkansas Department of Education and will support the new requirements for teacher licensure at the Middle Childhood and Secondary levels.
  • To establish a high priority for a permanent funding plan for the activities and personnel of the center.
  • To develop and maintain an active research program in the fields of seismology, earthquake engineering, and applied geophysics.
  • The primary purposes of hazard mitigation is to reduce damages and loss of life during natural or man-made disasters. It has been found that predisaster dollars spent on mitigation will significantly reduce the demand for large amounts of future dollars when a disaster strikes. Thus, ADEM has approved the funding of two mitigation projects. The tasks of these projects are to be accomplished by UALR in collaboration with several state agencies, federal agencies, and other neighboring states. Below is a short description to these two projects.

    In the seismic hazard mitigation, Arkansas Earthquake Center is assisting the state of Arkansas in strengthening the section 409 State Hazard Mitigation Plan by developing a data base in electronic format for the purpose of aiding the state in assessing vulnerabilities of citizens, public and private property, and the environment to the predicted adverse impacts of natural disasters and emergencies. This assessment will provide a basis for allocating future mitigation program funds to help the state reduce unacceptable risks. The data base will support the establishment of a state priority allocation mechanism for funding and will assist local communities and other potential applicants for state funding in the preparation of their applications

    Also the center involved with FEMA's Project Impact by assisting in the development of a Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan for Clay County, Arkansas' Project Impact community. The basis for the mitigation plan will be FEMA's and CUSEC's "Disaster Resistant Community" approach to hazard mitigation, which provides a model to reduce the vulnerability of a community to natural hazards such that injuries, deaths, property damage, economic losses, and human suffering are minimized, and community recovery will be accelerated.

    The primary goal of this project is to coordinate planning efforts with local officials, community leaders, and residents of Clay County for the development of a comprehensive hazard mitigation plan that will reduce the impact of future disasters. The plan will emphasize a community-based approach and will be ongoing with periodic review and revision. It is expected that Clay County's mitigation efforts will provide a model for other Arkansas counties/communities and promote a proactive approach, instead of a reactive one, to the potential destruction caused by natural hazards.

    In the field of scientific research, Arkansas Earthquake Center is now involved in a number of projects. Soil reaction to seismic waves is a key factor that needs to be characterized before design criteria can be established. Throughout the Mississippi Embayment, in general, and northeast Arkansas in particular there are limited (if any) information and data on how the soil will behave during a seismic event.

    Past and recent experiences indicate that soil layers have the potential of amplifying seismic waves. They also have the potential of being liquefied if severely shaken. Due to this non-linear reaction, it is very difficult to fully understand the behavior of the soils during the passage of seismic waves. The newly released seismic risk maps (USGS) indicate the severity of ground shaken for hard rock sites.the Arkansas Earthquake Center is initiating a feasibility study, field work, and preliminary analysis to characterize the soil column in the east and northeast Arkansas (starting with Clay County). This project, currently in the planning stages, will provide the groundwork for full scale soil studies in the region.

    Currently UALR is researching the possibility of establishing a seismological observatory for the state of Arkansas. This observatory, if established, would benefit the scientific community both locally and nationwide, emergency planners, and help with the public education and outreach program in the state of Arkansas and central United States.

    For Further information contact:

    Arkansas Earthquake Center
    Graduate Institute of Technology
    2801 South University
    Little Rock AR 72204

    Tel.(501) 569-8164

    Last Updated: June 04, 2012