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Walter Gray
Indiana Geological Survey

Last modified: Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Earthquake simulator raising awareness of quake dangers in Indiana

April 24, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- What's it like to experience an earthquake that registers 8.0 on the Richter scale? Hoosiers can find out first-hand from the Quake Cottage, an earthquake simulator that's being deployed by the Indiana Geological Survey in an outreach effort to raise awareness of the dangers of quakes.

The campaign kicks off today, April 24, with demonstrations of the quake simulator to participants in the Indiana School Safety Specialist Academy, presented by the Indiana Department of Education and taking place at the Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel at Keystone Crossing.

The public outreach campaign, including acquisition and demonstrations of the earthquake simulator, is funded by a two-year grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, reflecting the agencies' shared concerns about earthquake preparation in the state. While today's event is not open to the public, the Indiana Geological Survey will be taking the simulator to numerous events around the state in order to reach intended audiences.

"The simulator provides Hoosiers with an opportunity to experience shaking similar to that of a moderate to strong earthquake," said Walt Gray, education outreach coordinator for the Indiana Geological Survey. "It also shows how inexpensive preparedness efforts can protect lives and property.

"Given Indiana's proximity to the New Madrid and Wabash Valley fault zones, earthquake preparedness is an important component in any overall emergency planning effort, as recent global events have demonstrated."

The Quake Cottage being used in Indiana is one of only three in the U.S.; the other two are in Alaska and California. The idea behind the device is simple. While posters, fliers and public announcements can communicate information about the risk of earthquakes, the quakes are so random and infrequent that the public becomes complacent and unprepared. Yet earthquakes in Indiana have been strong enough to cause structural damage in parts of the state. And anything approaching a repeat of the massive New Madrid Quake of 1812 would be devastating to the region.

In addition, many of the preparations made for earthquakes are effective for emergencies and disasters that Hoosiers face each year, such as flooding, severe storms and tornadoes.

The Quake Cottage, which can simulate shaking equivalent to a 5.5 to 8.0 seismic event, provides a real sense of how frightening and potentially destructive a quake can be. The simulator -- 22 feet long, 8 feet wide and 14 feet high -- is completely portable and is mounted on a dual-axle trailer. The interior replicates a typical living room. Its contents are fastened to protect occupants while demonstrating the effectiveness of preparing for an earthquake to protect lives and limit damage to property.

Coupled with explanations of the effects and frequency of earthquakes, the simulator experience can encourage individuals and public officials to be better prepared for quakes; develop action plans for schools, businesses and homes; and educate everyone about earthquakes and what can be done to lessen their potentially disastrous effects.

About the Indiana Geological Survey

The Indiana Geological Survey is a research institute of Indiana University; its mission is to provide geologic information and counsel that contribute to the wise stewardship of the energy, mineral and water resources of the state. Established in 1837, the Indiana Geological Survey engages in focused research initiatives and cooperative investigations with governmental agencies, industries and schools; geologic sample and data collection and archiving; and dissemination of information such as maps, reports, databases and outreach programs.