Earthquake expert: older structures vulnerable in Midwest

An earthquake in the future of high magnitude would cause widespread damage, because unlike structures in California, bridges and buildings in the Midwest aren’t engineered to be earthquake resistant. The Midwest lies on the New Madrid fault.


Jim Wilcoski, researcher at the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Lab in Champaign, Ill., said an earthquake in the 5.2 earthquake that originated in southern Illinois the morning of April 18 , may be a danger to Midwestern buildings.

Structures most at risk are older, unreinforced brick masonry buildings, said Wilcoski and University of Illinois engineering professor Doug Foutch.

If the quake is centered near a major city like Memphis, Chicago, or St. Louis— where the Missouri Dept. of Transportation conducted an examination of bridges over the Mississippi River —there may be significant serious damage, especially for an earthquake in the 6 range, as some experts predict the Midwest is scheduled to have .

Southern Illinois and surrounding areas sit on the northern extension of the New Madrid fault. This fault caused a 6.8

An earthquake in the future of those magnitudes would cause widespread damage, Foutch said, because unlike structures in California, bridges and buildings in the Midwest aren’t engineered to be earthquake resistant.

Foutch predicted that most of the damage from a big earthquake would be in utility facilities, particularly in gas and oil pipelines in southern Illinois; bridges; and some highways.

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