Dr. Darrel Schmitz addressed the Eupora Rotary Club at its weekly meeting on May 24.
A 1973 graduate from Eupora High School, he earned his Bachelor of Science from Mississippi State, his master’s from Ole Miss and his doctorate from Texas A&M.
As only fate would intervene, he found himself accepting a teaching/research post at Mississippi State and moved his family to Starkville. His parents still lived in Eupora at the time, and his mother, Dorothy Schmitz, still resides in the family home here.
Schmitz recently retired from his position of chairman of the Department of Geosciences, but still teaches part time and is involved in contractual projects with private industry and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
His area of expertise is geology and its related fields of geography and cartology. His presentation to the Rotary members detailed information about how an earthquake in the New Madrid Fault area between Memphis and St. Louis would affect Eupora and Webster County.
The four areas of damage and destruction caused by earthquakes are liquefaction, landslides, ground shaking and tsunamis. The intensity of damage caused here would be determined by the closeness of the quake and its intensity. Because of our lack of bedrock and the amount of clay and sand in our soils with a relatively high-water table, liquefaction would be our biggest worry. Liquefaction is when loose soil is turned into liquid during the shaking of an earthquake. This process can undermine the foundations and supports for buildings, bridges, pipelines and roads causing them to sink, shift, collapse or dissolve.
The New Madrid Fault is a major tectonic plate fault in which two plates are pulling apart from each other. This pulling apart has caused the Mississippi River Valley and thus the continent’s major drainage system. Of course, the whole series of fractures and plates are moving in many directions because of mantle pressure, so the forces at play are not just in one direction.
In Eupora, it is predicted that there would be major damage from an 8 or higher intensity quake. The main damage would be caused by shaking and liquefaction. Buildings on hillsides, those on conventional foundations and those built on land with high water tables found along river and creek bottoms are most at risk. It was interesting to note that many Rotary members here work in the insurance business and were interested in and affirming what Schmitz had to say.
The Eupora Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at noon at Kountry Kitchen. It is a diverse membership of professionals, entrepreneurs, retirees and other people committed to being involved in our community. If you are interested in becoming a Rotarian, just ask a Rotarian!