Expert says Japan quake won't effect American faults

Dr. Mian Liu, MU Professor of Geological Sciences, has spent his life studying earthquakes and the tectonic plates that cause them.

He said the earthquake in Japan was caused by shifting plates in the volatile ring of fire. Here in Missouri, the New Madrid fault is part of a network of interacting faults within the calmer North American Plate. Last year a study done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency said a quake along the New Madrid fault would kill 3500 people, injure some 80,000 and leave millions homeless. So is it likely we'll see any fallout from the Japanese quake thousands of miles away?

Liu said, All I can say is at this point the Japanese earthquake has no direct link to earthquakes here so it does not increase or decrease the magnitude of earthquakes in Missouri".

Liu said the earth usually sees one or two magnitude eight or greater earthquakes per year. The only quake stronger than Japan's in recent memory was in 2004 in Indonesia.

We also asked Liu how the U.S West Coast preparedness stacks up to that of Japan. He said they're both very good, the only thing Japan has over the U.S is an advanced early warning system that gives residents about a minute to prepare for an earthquake.

An earthquake in Indonesia Liu mentioned was measured to be a 9.2, Japans latest quake registered at 9.0.

He said the Japan quake was nearly 1,000 times more powerful than the one that struck Haiti in 2009.