Reply to “Comment on “Should Memphis build for California's earthquakes?” From A.D. Frankel”]



Carl Sagan observed that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” In our view, A.D. Frankel's arguments (see accompanying Comment piece) do not reach the level required to demonstrate the counter-intuitive propositions that the earthquake hazard in the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) is comparable to that in coastal California, and that buildings should be built to similar standards.

This interchange is the latest in an ongoing debate beginning with Newman et al.'s [1999a] recommendation, based on analysis of Global Positioning System and earthquake data, that Frankel et al.'s [1996] estimate of California-level seismic hazard for the NMSZ should be reduced. Most points at issue, except for those related to the costs and benefits of the proposed new International Building Code 2000, have already been argued at length by both sides in the literature [e.g.,Schweig et al., 1999; Newman et al., 1999b, 2001; Cramer, 2001]. Hence,rather than rehash these points, we will try here to provide readers not enmeshed in this morass with an overview of the primary differences between our view and that of Frankel.