KIYC: Do earthquakes pose a risk to the tri-state area infrastructure?

Professor Lauren Adamo, of Rutgers University, says a large earthquake – 6.0 or higher – could do serious damage.

Walt Kane

Apr 6, 2024, 2:34 AM

Updated 52 days ago

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Could future earthquakes pose a significant danger to the tri-state areas’ aging infrastructure? A leading geoscientist tells Kane In Your Corner that it’s possible, but the risk is low and coastal storms and flooding will pose a more serious threat for the foreseeable future.
From 100-year-old bridges and tunnels to the aging New York City subway system, the tristate area has some of America’s oldest infrastructure. As a result, Professor Lauren Adamo, of Rutgers University, says a large earthquake – 6.0 or higher – could do serious damage. The good news: she says earthquakes in the Northeast are unlikely to ever get that big.
“We don't have the forces that would be needed of the pressures and the movement of the plates to create these really large earthquakes,” Adamo says. “We certainly could probably get a little bit bigger than we have. But the probability of that happening is low.”
Friday’s 4.8 earthquake was the largest to hit New Jersey in 140 years. It caused some isolated damage, including in Newark, where several homes were leaning and seemingly unstable. Adamo says that is more typical of the level of earthquake damage the tristate should expect.
“To create foundational damage to buildings, you would need at least a 6.0 on the Richter scale or a preexisting condition in the building or the land,” Adamo says, “But it’s not going to just collapse the building in terms of the shaking.”
This is only the fourth earthquake in modern history to cause damage in New Jersey. There has never been a recorded fatality.


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