By Bill Raack, St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis, MO – The head of St. Louis University's Earthquake Center says scientists still don't know what causes earthquakes or why they occur in the New Madrid region south of St. Louis.
Dr. Robert Herrmann says answering those questions would help officials anticipate what might happen in the future. In the meantime, Herrmann says residents should be concerned about the potential for a major quake in St. Louis but not hysterical.
"There are things that can be done in the long-term with respect to constructing buildings that can withstand expected earthquake ground motions to let's say preparing or exercising emergency response capabilities just so that if there is a disaster, trained people know how to respond to the earthquake," Herrmann said.
With the New Madrid Seismic Zone located in southeastern Missouri, preparation for an earthquake is key. And Herrmann says while it's not easy he's pleased with the state's readiness efforts.
"It's difficult to keep earthquakes as the major problem in this state because earthquakes occur so rarely. There are other problems, such as severe weather, that affect the state even more than earthquakes."
As part of Earthquake Awareness Month, a seminar was held at St. Louis University Friday to highlight the risk of quakes in the Midwest and how to better prepare for them.
Officials say the recent earthquake in Haiti reinforces the importance of being prepared.