November 21, 2008

I’VE MENTIONED THE DANGERS OF A MAJOR MIDWESTERN EARTHQUAKE IN THE PAST, but here’s more on that subject:

People in a vast seismic zone in the southern and midwestern United States would face catastrophic damage if a major earthquake struck there and should ensure that builders keep that risk in mind, a government report said on Thursday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said if earthquakes strike in what geologists define as the New Madrid Seismic Zone, they would cause “the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States.”

Yes, and overall the region is underprepared. But what’s this? (Gulp!)

Tennessee is likely to be hardest hit, according to the study that sought to gauge the impact of a 7.7 magnitude earthquake in order to guide the government’s response.

In Tennessee alone, it forecast hundreds of collapsed bridges, tens of thousands of severely damaged buildings and a half a million households without water.

Transportation systems and hospitals would be wrecked, and police and fire departments impaired, the study said.

I don’t like that at all.

UPDATE: Reader Scott Dismuke emails:

Found the story you posted today from Reuters on the likeliness of an earthquake along the New Madrid fault of great interest. I grew up about 25 miles from New Madrid, Missouri and of course in 1990 Iben Browning infamously predicted an earthquake around the first of December.

Anyhow, there is project going on in your back yard at ORNL that is working in Memphis (and other communities) to prepare for a catastrophic event, just like this. Thought you’d like to see the website.

Very interesting.

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