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Engineering and Socioeconomic Impacts of Earthquakes: An Analysis of Electricity Lifeline Disruptions in the New Madrid Area

edited by M. Shinozuka, A. Rose, and R.T. Eguchi

The largest earthquakes ever to hit the contiguous 48 states were centered in the New Madrid Seismic Zone near Memphis, Tennessee, in 1811-1812. Reports of these events were phenomenal. Rivers were rerouted, trees were said to have popped out of the ground, and the ground shaking itself was felt as far away as Boston. Yet, total dollar damages associated with the earthquakes were probably less than $1 million. The reason is that the area was relatively uninhabited, and the city of Memphis was not founded until several years later.

How would the situation differ today? An earthquake of a similar or even lesser magnitude is projected to be able to cause damage in the billions of dollars. The difference is that the Memphis area is now highly populated and is the center of a sophisticated and highly interdependent regional economy. Moreover, it is also a major crossroads for the national economy.

Engineering and Socioeconomic Impacts of Earthquakes: An Analysis of Electricity Lifeline Disruptions in the New Madrid Area examines the potential effects of a repeat of the New Madrid earthquake to the metropolitan Memphis area.

The authors developed a case study of the impact of such an event to the electric power system, and analyzed how this disruption would affect society. In nine chapters and 189 pages, the book is a first of its kind effort to develop and apply a multidisciplinary methodology that traces the impacts of catastrophic earthquakes through a curtailment of utility lifeline services to its host regional economy and beyond.

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