Earthquake Insight Field Trip FAQs

Or, What Did I Get Myself Into?

What is this thing? This field trip is hosted by the US Geological Survey (USGS), through Earthquake Insight LLC. It is part of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) [pronounced "NEE hurp"]. The overall purpose is to educate key leaders in the private sector and public policy (you) and enlist them in reducing earthquake risk.

Why should I go? Geoscientists have long recognized the very real risk of earthquakes in the central US. And engineers know how to design structures to resist earthquakes. But unfortunately, a lot of new development still does not consider earthquake hazards. Sites are selected and projects are built without really considering earthquakes. As a result, much of the built environment is at high risk from earthquakes. This field trip will help you recognize this gap between what we know about earthquakes and what we do about them – and take action to close it. Lives and property are at stake.

Earthquake Insight Field Trip

Where are we going? This field trip starts and ends in St. Louis, Mo. Along the way we will make about a dozen stops in the St. Louis metro area, southern Illinois, and south-westernmost Indiana. This itinerary will focus on earthquake hazards posed by the Wabash Valley fault system as well as the New Madrid fault system. We will also talk about other diffuse, earthquake source zones in Illinois, Indiana, western Kentucky, and other parts of the central US.

What is on the agenda?

  1. A visit to a university research center, where research on central-US earthquakes is in progress.
  2. Travel through urban neighborhoods that have a lot of high-risk structures.
  3. A look at developed areas that will shake harder than other areas due to the underlying geology.
  4. Visits to engineered solutions that minimize earthquake risk to certain structures.
  5. Illustrations of infrastructure, industry, and urban development that are at higher earthquake-risk than surrounding areas – again, due to the underlying geology.
  6. Discussions of industrial operations; markets; infrastructure; resources; assets; and logistics, transportation, and communication sectors exposed to high earthquake risk that is generally unrecognized.
  7. A visit to a church structure that survived the 1811-12 New Madrid earthquakes and is still in use for worship services.

About a dozen geoscientists and engineers who are doing this work will present their story to the group. They will travel with the group and will be available for informal discussions. By the end of the trip, participants will be able to spot and better understand earthquake hazards as well as earthquake risks – and the tools available to manage them.

Earthquake Insight Field Trip

Is this the first field trip of its kind? This is the seventh Earthquake Insight Field Trip since June 2005. The full report on the first one can be viewed at There are over 200 alumni of past Earthquake Insight Field Trips from all over the country – Texas, Ohio, California, New York, Minnesota, Georgia, Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Colorado, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois. Participants have represented State Farm, Pfizer, FEMA, FM Global, the Missouri State Senate, Odyssey Re, Dillard’s, Wal-Mart, Chubb, US Department of Transportation, California Department of Insurance, AmerenUE, AON, AG Edwards, ABC/Disney, General Re, Time-Warner, Edward Jones, The Republic Group, Shelter Insurance, St. Paul/Travelers, Enbridge, Swiss Re, SAIC, CenterPoint Energy, US Social Security Administration, and many others. We haven’t lost anyone yet.

How much does it cost? The cost to each participant is $550. This covers only a part of the actual costs of development, personnel, logistics, and consumables. The US Geological Survey and many of the presenters generously subsidize much of the actual cost.

Who’s in charge? Phyllis Steckel, a registered geologist, is the field trip leader. Phyllis received a grant from the US Geological Survey for proactive outreach on earthquake risk and how to manage that risk. She has been involved in earthquake risk reduction in the central US for almost 25 years.

Who else is going? Earthquake Insight Field Trips are especially for non-scientists, such as business leaders, elected officials, infrastructure managers, media, finance and equity professionals, risk managers, portfolio managers, lenders, business continuity planners, and others in similar responsible positions.

Earthquake Insight Field Trip

Who will we meet? Along the way, we’ll meet with expert geoscientists, engineers, and others who are working on the earthquake risk issue in the central US. Some are involved in research, some are in the public sector, and some are in private practice. A dozen or so will accompany the group on the field trip. There will be plenty of time for informal, one-on-one discussions.

Earthquake Insight Field Trip

What can I expect? Remember, this is a field trip, so we’ll be in the field for part of it – and no whining, please. If it rains, it will be wet. If it doesn’t rain, it will be dry. It may be cold or windy or clear and crisp – so check the forecast before you leave home and be prepared. At some of the stops we may walk some distance. If mobility is an issue, please contact Phyllis (636-239-4013) as soon as possible. While this route includes rural areas that have somewhat limited ‘urban comforts,’ clean and comfortable accommodations and hearty, wholesome meals and snacks are included: you will sleep and eat well.

What about transportation? Transportation is provided round-trip from St. Louis. We will travel on a chartered motor coach equipped with an intercom and a restroom. There will be one escort vehicle that accompanies the motor coach, which is available if someone must leave the field trip due to illness or other emergency.

How about lodging and meals? A block of rooms has been reserved for Wednesday night, November 2, 2011, at the Drury Inn Airport St. Louis. You must make your own reservation for Wednesday, November 2, by calling 1-800-DRURY-INN or online at; our group number is 2118263. The cost of the hotel on Wednesday night is $121.66 (including taxes) and is not included in your field-trip registration. The Drury Inn Airport St. Louis offers complimentary airport shuttle service. On Thursday night, the hotel arrangements are already made for you, and the cost of the Thursday-night hotel is included in your registration fee. Each participant will have his or her own, single-occupancy hotel room on Thursday night, November 3.

Also, if you will need lodging in the St. Louis area on Friday night, November 4, please make these arrangements on your own.

Meals that are included in the field-trip cost are: dinner on Wednesday, November 2; breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Thursday, November 3; and breakfast and lunch on Friday, November 4. Juice, snacks, and soft drinks will be available at breaks, and bottled water will be available at all times. If a special diet is required, please contact Phyllis (636-239-4013) as soon as possible. If you have significant diet constraints – such as strict kosher, vegan, or severe allergies – you may want to bring a few staples to tide you over just in case.

Where can I leave my car? The Parking Spot 2 is next-door to the Drury Inn Airport St. Louis at 10486 Natural Bridge Road. The cost is $11.95 open-air, and $14.95 per day covered. See

What should I wear? Wear comfortable, closed shoes and comfortable long pants. The dress code is informal: jeans and tennies are fine. Dress for the weather. Geoscientists are among the worlds worst-dressed – so you probably will look better than your hosts in just about anything you’ve got.

What to bring? Definitely bring cameras and extra batteries. Muted cell phones are welcome during the breaks, although coverage may be marginal in some areas. At some of the field sites, there may be insects, mud, poison oak, bright sun, and allergens. Bring a day pack with rain gear, sunscreen, sunglasses, and allergy meds. Bring lots of business cards. And most importantly, please don’t forget your generous good humor!

Earthquake Insight Field Trip

What should I expect? Expect camaraderie; new contacts; personal growth; insight; perspective; and knock-your-socks-off relevant, usable information. You may get ideas to solve a problem you didn’t know you had. And you may even enjoy yourself.

When do we meet? The Welcome Desk will open in the lobby of the Drury Inn Airport St. Louis about 4:00 pm on Wednesday, November 2. The group will officially assemble at Lombardo’s, an Italian restaurant next door, at 6:00 pm. After introductions, dinner will be served about 6:30 pm. After our meal, there will be several setting-the-stage presentations that will provide background information that will help you get the most out of the rest of the trip.

When do we get back? Depending on afternoon traffic in St. Louis, we should be back to the Drury Inn Airport St. Louis by late afternoon on Friday, November 4.

What about registration? As you can imagine, there is a lot of planning for each Earthquake Insight Field Trip. As a result, your registration and seat assignment will be confirmed when your payment is received – not in the order of initial inquiry. When you first let Phyllis Steckel know you will participate, your name will be “penciled in” on the seating roster. However, those who are “penciled in” may lose their seats to others who inquire later, but deliver payment sooner. The only way to confirm your seat is for your payment to be received. Mail your payment to: Earthquake Insight LLC; PO Box 2002; Washington, MO 63090. In case your payment is received after all seats have been assigned and the trip is sold out, your check will be returned in a timely manner. Unfortunately, credit cards are not accepted; payment must be made by check.

Because many of the expenses for this field trip are paid up-front and are non-refundable, once your payment is received and your seat confirmed, no refunds are possible. However, substitutions are allowed at any time, even up until the day of departure.

=>Participants should line up an alternate to take their spot when they register.

I still have some questions. How do I get answers? Contact Phyllis Steckel at 636-239-4013 or

I’m already sold. How do I reserve my place? Contact Phyllis Steckel at 636-239-4013 or to make sure that space is still available. Then get your registration form and check in the mail immediately: this one, like every other Earthquake Insight Field Trip, will be a sell-out.