Earthquakes could hit home

The 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile killed more than 300 people. A few hours later, a 7.0 earthquake hit Japan. Another 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti; 230,000 have been confirmed dead, as reported by CNN. The recent series of earthquakes has brought aid and attention to the affected countries.

Two years ago, a 5.2 earthquake hit St. Louis as a result of its place on the New Madrid fault line. In light of these recent earthquakes and Earthquake Awareness month in February, many people like Earth science teacher Mr. Ryan McCoy are now worried that Missouri will be feeling the devastating effects soon. Mr. McCoy predicts Missouri to have at least an 8.0 earthquake.

“We need to be prepared,” said Mr. McCoy. “There will probably be one in the next 150 years.”

Geologists predict earthquakes by the history of frequencies in a particular area.

“Prediction is extremely difficult,” said Mr. McCoy. “Most of the time, [they] do probabilities. The technology isn’t there to predict the timing of [earthquakes].”

By analyzing previous fault activity, geologists can understand when an earthquake is due. Although exact predictions are near impossible, attempts have been made.

“The Japanese have been successful with some predictions,” said Mr. McCoy. “Scientists look at radio waves and animal behaviors, such as snake hibernation and restless horses.”

Moving beyond the detection of earthquakes, architects are preparing for earthquakes by improving on buildings.

“St. Louis has retrofitted its bridges,” said Mr. McCoy. “Building codes have been updated and taller and larger buildings have been designed to sway under pressure.”

Buildings made of rigid materials, such as steel, have a harder time withstanding an earthquake due to their lack of flexibility. Modern buildings are designed to give with pressure of earthquakes.