In many regions of the United States and other nations, earthquakes risk causing substantial physical disruption, with associated long duration power outages. The New Madrid seismic zone exemplifies these risks. The New Madrid fault roughly parallels the Mississippi River, and produced a 7.7 earthquake in 1812.
A recurrence of that earthquake today would damage or destroy many hundreds of electric substations, high voltage transformers and transmission lines, generators, and other grid components over a multistate region including Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and potentially other States. The Department of Energy has assessed that such an event would not only disrupt power in the New Madrid region but far beyond, with outages potentially affecting 100-150 million people across the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest United States.
This represents a particularly complex threat to the US and, therefore, to the entire world’s economic and societal well-being. The ongoing work of the Central United States Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC)1 should be far more extensively supported and encouraged. In addition, the success of CUSEC’s efforts will also depend on broad availability of tools and capabilities essential for multi-corporate communication, situational awareness and emergency power continuity in such events2.
1 CUSEC is a partnership of the federal government and the seven states most affected by an earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Those states are: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.
2 For more information on such tools and capabilities, see resources for “BSX,” “GINOM” and “Emergency Power Assurance” elsewhere on this website.
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