Kentucky Geological Survey Report of Investigations


In the central United States, earthquake sources that are not well defined, long earthquake recurrence intervals, and uncertain ground-motion attenuation models have contributed to an overstatement of seismic hazard for the New Madrid Seismic Zone on the national seismic hazard maps published by the U.S. Geological Survey. A series of informal interviews in western Kentucky with local businesspersons, public officials, and other professionals in occupations associated with seismic-hazard mitigation discussed seismic-mitigation policies in relation to depressed local economy. Scientific and relative economic analysis was then performed using scenario earthquake models developed with the Federal Emergency management Agency's Hazus-MH software. The ground-motion hazard generated by the 2008 Wenchuan, China, earthquake and seismic mitigation policies in that area were compared with those of the New Madrid Seismic Zone. 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 should help improve public safety and economic development.

Publication Date



Series XII

Report Number

Report of Investigations 32

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

In addition to funding by the Kentucky Geological Survey, financial support for this research was provided by the University of Kentucky, the Geological Society of America, and student exchange programs with the Lanzhou Institute of Seismology (Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China) and the Beijing Institute of Crustal Dynamics (Beijing, China).