A magnitude-5.0 earthquake in New York City would cause an estimated $39 billion in damage after buildings topple like a "house of cards," according to the Daily Mail.
And the city is overdue for a quake of that size, seismologists say. The last one was in 1884 and they occur about every 100 years.
An estimated 30 million tons of debris would litter the streets after a 5.0 earthquake in NYC , and anything bigger than that would almost certainly collapse buildings and cause loss of life to the city's 8.5 million residents.
"The problem here comes from many subtle faults," said Lynn Skyes, lead author of a study by seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the New York Daily News reported. "We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought."
New York City is riddled with fault lines. The largest runs down 125th Street, extending from New Jersey to the East River.
The Dyckman Street Fault runs from Inwood to Morris Heights in the Bronx. The Mosholu Parkway Fault line runs a bit farther north.
The East River Fault is an especially long one, running south, skirting Central Park’s west side then heading to the East River when it hits 32nd Street.
New York’s main problem isn’t the magnitude of earthquakes, it’s how the city is built.
"Considering population density and the condition of the region's infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact," New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation wrote on its website.
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