Scientists who specialize in the study of Mississippi Valley earthquakes say that the region is overdue for a powerful tremor that will cause major damage and undoubtedly some casualties. The inevitability of a future quake and the lack of preparation by both individuals and communities provided the impetus for this book. Atkinson brings together applicable information from many disciplines: history, geology and seismology, engineering, zoology, politics and community planning, economics, environmental science, sociology, and psychology and mental health to provide the most comprehensive perspective to date of the myriad impacts of a major earthquake on the Mississippi Valley. Atkinson addresses such basic questions as What, actually, are earthquakes? How do they occur? Where are they likely to occur? Can they be predicted, perhaps even prevented? He also addresses those steps that individuals can take to improve their chances for survival both during and after an earthquake.