By BRAD McLELLAND
The early-morning earthquake that shook portions of Union County
Saturday registered 2.2 on the Richter scale and occurred closer to the
City of El Dorado than any localized earthquake in the past, officials with
the Arkansas Center for Earthquake Education and Technology Transfer
in Little Rock said Wednesday.
After going over recent data, Haydar J. Al-Shukri, director of the
earthquake center, said the 2.2-magnitude shaker registered at 4:43 a.m.
and occurred within the city itself, between the intersection of U.S. 82
and U.S. 167. He said five seismic stations - including the one at the University
of Arkansas at Little Rock, where the earthquake center is located - recorded the event.
"It was a very poor location for the event, and not very well constrained
because of the distance," Al-Shukri said by telephone Wednesday
morning. "The closest station recording it was 150 kilometers away."
He said lack of seismic equipment in the area was also responsible for
poor depth readings, but the earliest indication of how deep the
earthquake occurred is 6 kilometers - a "very shallow depth," he said.
"This is why you need nearby stations, because the further you go, the more resolution
you lose on depth." He said what is known about Saturday morning's temblor is that it
occurred closer to El Dorado than any earthquake experienced here before.
"Your past earthquakes were not as close to the town as this one,"
Asked if the center had determined if a follow-up earthquake was in store, he said there is
no indication at this time of "anything following this one or not."
"We've never tracked this area (South Arkansas) before, and that is why
seismic stations are so important." He said a station could determine if a fault is active or not,
"but very likely, a large number of quakes along a fault means it's active, with the possibility of generating more."
"And there's also the possibility of a larger event," Al-Shukri added. "If I
have a nearby station, my record would be very sharp. I could tell what
kind of tectonic motion is taking place in the area."
In August, Al-Shukri spoke to the Union County Local Emergency Planning Committee and
explained how a seismic station - complete with a seismometer and digitizer - could immediately
retrieve data from an earthquake event - data which could possibly tell experts what to expect along
a particular fault-line in the future.
Al-Shukri had said at that time that a station, complete with the necessary
hardware, would run the county about $54,000, "but the system is
self-sustaining, since it goes into the ground."
During Wednesday's interview, Al-Shukri said legislation is currently in
the works in Little Rock to help areas absorb the enormous cost of
seismic stations and other necessary equipment. He said Senate Bill 679
would provide capital improvement funding to install the stations and
could conceivably put "at least three or four stations" in South Arkansas
"This is why you need to contact your local legislators about this bill,
because this will affect you directly," he said.
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