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Derecho 12-31-2011 01:57 PM

Ottawa At Risk For A Big Earthquake
Ottawa at risk for big earthquake
Destruction could be far worse than in Christchurch, New Zealand

Seismologists and structural engineers say the city of Ottawa is at risk for a big earthquake.

The Val-des-Bois quake that shook the capital last year reminded people that Ottawa sits in an earthquake zone. And there is a chance it could one day produce a destructive quake far worse than February's deadly magnitude-6.3 tremor in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Earthquake would shake east Ottawa hardest

Recent studies show east Ottawa would feel an earthquake worse than much of the nation's capital.

Underground mapping conducted by area seismologists show most of Orleans sits on top of deposits of unstable Leda clay, which can magnify shaking felt during an earthquake.

Ottawa's micro-zonation project is trying to identify what parts of the city rest on Leda clay, which has become more urgent since the earthquake in Val-des-bois, Que., in June 2010.

Earthquake-proofing needed for Ottawa schools

Ottawa's older schools are not prepared for an earthquake, according to two Ottawa engineers who say structural upgrading is needed to prevent the possibility of significant damage.

Murat Saatcioglu, the University of Ottawa research chair in earthquake engineering, said many of Ottawa's public buildings are full of "substandard reinforced concrete frames" designed to a 1963 building code.

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