Massive Natural Disaster Drill in the Central US Staged This Week
Monday began a massive national disaster drill in the central U.S. portraying an earthquake in the New Madrid seismic zone (NMSZ) which causes power blackouts, loss of communications, damage to roads and bridges, and casualties.
The week's exercise uses much of the data generated by the Prairie Research Institute's Illinois State Geological Survey and the Mid-America Earthquake Center, both at the University of Illinois, for a five-year Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) project. The FEMA project estimated the damage that eight states would experience from a magnitude 7.7 earthquake located on each of the three faults in the NMSZ. However, this week's drill assumes a magnitude 7.7 earthquake on only the southern fault in the NMSZ which is farthest away from Illinois. It would still cause damage in the southern-most counties of the state and would be felt throughout the eastern U.S.
The drill scenario also has Illinois and Indiana emergency managers dealing with the aftermath of an earthquake on the Wabash Valley seismic zone (WVSZ) which was triggered by the exercise New Madrid event. The WVSZ is where the magnitude 5.4 event occurred on April 18, 2008 which damaged about 240 structures just in Illinois.
Following a real world event, many University of Illinois professionals would be responding. The Illinois State Geological Survey would provide a subject matter expert in the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) and deploy scientists to document the earthquake effects. Structural and geotechnical engineers from the College of Engineering would be documenting effects on buildings, bridges, and ports, and the effects in the ground.
The mission of the Illinois State Geological Survey is to provide the citizens and institutions of Illinois with earth science research and information that are accurate, objective, and relevant to the state's environmental quality, economic prosperity, and public safety.
The Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois is the home of the Illinois State Scientific Surveys: Illinois Natural History Survey, Illinois State Archaeological Survey, Illinois State Geological Survey, Illinois State Water Survey, and Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. It was established by statute in 2008 and builds on the Surveys' reputations for basic and applied research and service. With 700 employees and a budget of more than $68 million in applied science, the Prairie Research Institute is one of the largest institutes within the University. Institute scientists work to support economic development and natural and cultural resource sustainability for Illinois and beyond.
Updated 09/15/2011 SLD