by Phyllis Blackburn
BATESVILLE – The campus of the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville has been chosen as one of two new sites for a seismograph.
Dr. Haydar Al-Shukri, Director of the Arkansas Earthquake Center and an Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said the Enola station near Greenbrier was completed in May and the UACCB station has been functioning for more than a week sending data to the Little Rock seismological observatory. The two new seismologic stations are on-line and filling in the gaps of needed data from two existing sites – one in St. Louis and another at Little Rock that gathers data from the New Madrid seismic zone.
The New Madrid Earthquake was a major event in the winter of 1811 and 1812. “The Great New Madrid Earthquakes were a series of three or four major quakes and dozens of lesser ones that began on December 16, 1811 along the St. Francis River in Arkansas. It is likely that two separate major shocks occurred on that day, one in the morning and another in the early afternoon. Later shocks in the following January and February centered farther north along the fault line and destroyed the town of New Madrid, Missouri. ... The fault line still exists and informed speculation holds that a major quake today would result in incalculable losses,” as explained by Arkansas Stories, Your Arkansas History Source at www.arkansasstories.com.
Reasons given for choosing the two sites are: “At Enola there is a cluster of earthquakes that have happened in the past and are happening presently. It is a partially active region. So we selected Enola because of the seismic activity. We conducted a noise analysis and noise is low. Also the school system at Enola has a good internet connection,” said Dr. Al-Shukri. “Accessibility, tech support, internet connection, site and that the people at UACCB were very supportive and helpful are why we decided on the Batesville site.”
The seismograph located on the UACCB campus is in two parts. The underground device is in a vault where instruments sense the ground motion, and the above ground part translates the information to a digital recording on a computer.
The extremely sensitive seismograph was placed in a ten feet hole, filled with cement to five feet and then vertically into a three-inch diameter pipe – the instrument was placed inside the pipe to decouple the instrument from the ground. Wires connect the device with the on-site computer that sends data on real time through the Internet to the data recording station at UALR. The system is also connected to a Global Positioning System to give the latitude and longitude reading accurate within an inch and to give real time or universal time.
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and the UALR fund the project 50 - 50 to create a state of the art seismological observatory to benefit the scientific community and emergency planners.
Dr. Al-Shukri stressed that although the two new stations give added information about the New Madrid fault area and that the data is exciting, other sites are needed to give a full analysis and reliability. He presented data, told why the two sites were chosen, and gave examples on the quality of the data on June 23 in West Memphis to the Governor’s Earthquake Advisory Council.
To view graphs, charts, maps and information about the seismological observatory go to http://quake.ualr.edu/.
Heath Wooldridge, Maintenance Supervisor at the University of Arkansas Community College in Batesville, stands by the new seismograph located on the campus of UACCB.