Memphis to Host National Earthquake Conference Print E-mail

APRIL 5, 2012

Jim Wilkinson

Event will showcase lessons from earthquakes past for future risk reduction

Memphis, Tenn. – As 2012 marks the bicentennial of a series of strong earthquakes that struck the New Madrid seismic zone in late 1811 and early 1812, earthquake experts and emergency managers from around the U.S. will gather in Memphis for the National Earthquake Conference (NEC), April 10 to April 13 at the Peabody Hotel.

“The Institute is absolutely thrilled to hold in annual meeting in Memphis this year,” said Jay Berger, executive director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI).  “As the nation’s leading technical society for earthquake professionals we understand the seriousness of the seismic risk in the central US and the vulnerability of a built environment insufficient to the meet the expected intensity of shaking. We hope that bringing our nation’s leading earthquake risk reduction experts from academia, practice and government to Memphis will encourage local planners and officials to elevate their efforts at addressing the exposure to the seismic risk.  Joining forces this year with the National Earthquake Conference increases the diversity of the participants and adds an increased emphasis on preparedness and mitigation, especially applicable to communities like Memphis and in the surrounding region.”

Sessions at this year’s NEC, themed Learning from the Past to Protect the Future, will provide participants opportunities to learn lessons from recent and historic earthquakes, and how to apply them to reduce future impacts and build resiliency.

NEC plenary and breakout sessions will cover:

- The vulnerability of aging, large infrastructure;

- Information on tools for earthquake risk reduction;

- Successful earthquake mitigation and response programs in the public and private sectors; and

- The latest information on seismic safety improvements for schools.

Among the NEC’s featured speakers will be:  Timothy Galarnyk, host of the History Channel’s Inspector America; Tom O’Rourke, professor at Cornell University and EERI Distinguished Lecture; Conevery Bolton Valencius, professor at University of Massachusetts; Kathleen Tierney, director of the University of Colorado Natural Hazards Center; Chris Poland, chairman and senior principal of Degenkolb Engineers;  and Sandra Knight, deputy federal insurance and  mitigation administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“As one of the lead organizations coordinating the NEC, I’m delighted Memphis was chosen to be serving as the host city for the 2012 National Earthquake Conference,” said Jim Wilkinson, executive director of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC).  “CUSEC, which has been headquartered in Memphis since 1987, has worked tirelessly with its many partners across academia, government, and private sectors to increase not only the awareness of the earthquake risk, but to demonstrate effective risk reduction methods while simultaneously planning to respond and recover from a damaging earthquake.  Hosting the NEC will allow us the opportunity to highlight the many positive changes that have taking place in Memphis and throughout the central U.S.”   

The National Earthquake Conference (NEC) brings together hundreds of geoscientists, engineers, insurance regulators, building officials and emergency management professionals to discuss advancements in earthquake theory, mitigation, preparedness and education.

Besides EERI and CUSEC, other members of the NEC organizing executive committee include the Western States Seismic Policy Council (WSSPC), Northeast States Emergency Consortium (NESEC), and Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup (CREW).  FEMA, U.S. Geologic Survey, National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program and National Institute of Standards and Technology are lending their support to this year’s NEC, too.

For registration and event information,