Virginia Tech, U of I report projects damage if New Madrid fault
creates significant quake
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[January 27, 2010]
NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION, Va. --
Theresa Jefferson and John Harrald, research faculty at the Virginia
Tech Center for Technology, Security and Policy in the National
Capital Region, recently completed a research project funded by the
Federal Emergency Management Agency to model the social effects and
disaster response requirements of a 7.7-magnitude catastrophic
earthquake on the three segments of the New Madrid Seismic Zone.
Earthquakes that occur there potentially threaten parts of seven
states: Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee
The researchers found that such a disaster would
result in 80,000 injuries and 3,500 fatalities. Their analysis also
concluded that, due to the extensive damage to critical
infrastructure and buildings, 2 million people would seek shelter.
Using damage and loss estimates produced by Amr S. Elnashai,
director, who served as the principal investigator, and Lisa J.
Cleveland, technical project manager, Mid America Earthquake Center,
University of Illinois, the study focused on the effects on
vulnerable populations and the requirements necessary to support the
7.2 million people who would be directly affected by such an event.
Jefferson and Harrald both have academic and practical experience
in crisis, disaster and emergency management. They traveled
extensively through the New Madrid Seismic Zone in connection with
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The New Madrid Seismic Zone is a 150-mile-long fault system spanning
four states in the central United States. Historic earthquakes in
the region, such as the 1811-1812 earthquakes, are believed to have
had magnitudes of approximately 8.0 if measured on the Richter
The geology in the central United States, based on soil
liquefaction, makes earthquake damage in that area much more
widespread. There are approximately 12 million people in the
high-risk area and 44 million people in the entire New Madrid
Seismic Zone region.
Virginia Tech file]