Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences


Earth and Environmental Sciences (Geology)

First Advisor

Dr. Edward W. Woolery

Second Advisor

Dr. Zhenming Wang


In the central United States, undefined earthquake sources, long earthquake recurrence intervals and uncertain ground motion attenuation models have contributed to an overstatement of regional seismic hazard for the New Madrid Seismic Zone on the National Seismic Hazard Maps. This study examined concerns regarding scientific uncertainties, overly stringent seismic mitigation policies and depressed local economy in western Kentucky through a series of informal interviews with local businessmen, public officials, and other professionals in occupations associated with seismic mitigation. Scientific and relative economic analyses were then performed using scenario earthquake models developed with FEMA’s Hazus-MH software. Effects of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in central China and seismic mitigation policies in use there were considered for potential parallels and learning opportunities. Finally, suggestions for continued scientific research, additional educational opportunities for laymen and engineering professionals, and changes in the application of current earthquake science to public policy in the central United States were outlined with the goal of easing western Kentucky economic issues while maintaining acceptable public safety conditions.