Amr Elnashai, a professor of civil engineering and director of the Mid-America Earthquake Center (MAE), says the recent 5.2 earthquake is neither the last nor the largest the midwest can expect. According to an article in Engineering at Illinois,
In considering future earthquake events, Elnashai noted that there are two seismic mechanisms that affect the Midwest--the Wabash Valley, with a calculated capability of a 7.1 magnitude, which will shake the region about 900 times more violently than the West Salem earthquake in April 2008, and the New Madrid Zone, which is capable of up to magnitude 8, which will shake the region more than 2,700 times more violently.
"Under such earthquakes, the ground in some critical regions will liquefy, as it did in 1811-1812," he added. As with other disaster scenarios, untold indirect consequences also await populations in the region. In winter, power--and heat--will be out for weeks, as well as water and telecommunications. Highways and bridges will be closed along with rail lines and major metropolitan airports in Chicago, St. Louis, and Memphis. High-rise buildings in Chicago will lose windows and other attachments such as TV towers.