Wyoming State Geological Survey
     Wallace Ulrich
     Director, WSGS
Wyoming State Geological Survey
P.O. Box 1347
Laramie, WY 82073


News Release
December 12, 2011


Wyoming State Geological Survey Launches HAZUS Website For Emergency Planners

The Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) has launched an interactive website with results of earthquake damage scenarios that can be used by emergency planners and managers to better prepare for earthquakes in the state.

“Information from this website is critical to the health and safety of several Wyoming communities that live within seismically active zones,” said Wallace Ulrich, director of the WSGS. “We hope that the citizens and local governments will use this information to better prepare for potential disasters.”

Damage and risk assessments were calculated for seismically active areas using HAZUS, a nationally standardized, GIS-based, risk and loss program that estimates damage to buildings, critical facilities, utilities, and transportation inventories. This project is the result of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of Wyoming Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.

The Hazus Internet map server can be viewed at: http://ims.wsgs.uwyo.edu/hazus. Users can create a login for access to search the interactive map databases and reports.

The loss estimates (locations and buildings, etc.) can be used by local, state, and regional officials and are designed to promote and plan to minimize risks from earthquakes and better prepare for emergency response and recover efforts in the event of an earthquake. “Information that is visualized spatially, and made available to decision makers, can help minimize the impacts and the costs of such natural disasters,” Ulrich said.

The project team looked at earthquake scenarios on 12 fault systems throughout the state and generated reports that contain information vital to emergency planners and managers. Interactive maps allow users to view areas that are likely to experience the strongest shaking and the potential loss related to the earthquake scenarios.

“Hazus models allow us to provide information pertaining to potential effects and loss estimates for specific seismic events in Wyoming,” said Seth Wittke, WSGS project manager.

While earthquakes are common in Wyoming, people have only felt a small number since record keeping began 140 years ago. The largest earthquake recorded (6.5 magnitude) in Wyoming occurred in 1959 in Yellowstone National Park. The data complied for this project show that the majority of earthquakes occur in the western portion of the state, from Cody to Green River. However, every county in the state has experienced earthquakes in the past, said Wittke. “Because of the regional geology, earthquakes in the western third of Wyoming are typically felt over a smaller area than earthquakes in the eastern part of the state,” he said.

Contact: Seth Wittke, Surficial Geology
(307) 766-2286, ext. 244
seth.wittke@wyo.gov