Earthquake expert warns of economic damage

ROLLA, Mo. (AP) -- An earthquake expert warns that the biggest blow from a major seismic event in the Midwest could strike the nation's economy.

Professor Dave Rogers of Missouri University of Science and Technology told an audience of scientists and emergency responders Wednesday that such a quake could cripple Mississippi River barge traffic, oil and natural gas pipelines, interstate highways and public water supplies.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates a 7 to 10 percent chance in the next 50 years of an earthquake similar in intensity to the New Madrid quakes that rocked the Missouri bootheel and beyond in 1811 and 1812. But those odds increase to nearly 50 percent for an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 or greater over the next five decades.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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