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No significant damage from WNY earthquake

Local experts with earthquake expertise say tremors did not have the energy to cause damage.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — While it was quite an eye-opening experience early Monday morning with that unexpected jolt and some noise, we, fortunately, did not get the major seismic activity that has occurred with devastating effects elsewhere like Turkey. 

So now some words of reassurance from other local experts who focus on the subject of earthquakes and structural integrity. 

By now probably everybody saw or heard about the incident on Academy Road in North Buffalo as several bricks from a chimney were dislodged and hit a car below with a cracked windshield. There were no injuries reported and not even any other significant damage was found by the City of Buffalo officials who even had some building inspectors out checking in some neighborhoods.

There is nothing back from the state DOT so far.

We know Erie County DPW also checked some area bridges especially longer spans like the one carrying Bullis Road over Buffalo Creek in Elma. Again nothing in terms of any damage was found. 

That falls in line with expectations from local experts who study seismic activity with a current comparison. 

Dr. Gary Solar is a professor of Geology and Earth Sciences Department Chair. He also focuses on historical tectonic movements that can cause seismic activity. 

"The episode in Turkey was massive - right?  Ten - thousand times the energy released than the one that we had here this morning."

Over at UB's North Campus, as we've shown you before, engineering professors and students use sophisticated heavy-duty equipment like so-called shaking tables to simulate earthquakes and examine how they could affect a building or bridge. That derived knowledge is shared internationally. 

Dr. Michel Bruener is a structural engineering professor who works with the UB lab.  So in this morning's event, he says certain things were experienced and expected which did not lead to any major damage. 

"You can tell right now- just look outside. It's not like we're surrounded by damage right now. Right? It's pretty mild if anything - maybe nothing. Things on shelves probably did not even fall off the shelves which are things that would normally be the first things that would get this."

Bruener says an already weakened structure or element like that chimney might have had damage.

"You have things that are in good condition and well maintained and you may have other buildings that are in less pristine condition  - let's put it that way. So if you had a few bricks lose on your chimney and all we needed was a little bit of shaking to fall down - that's not impossible. If you have a building in a good state of construction and well maintained and with the type of shaking we had this morning - statistically should not make an impact."

And then showing more of that earthquake expertise, North Tonawanda-based Taylor Devices makes seismic dampers resembling large shock absorbers to help protect tall buildings and bridges from earthquake shock and vibration. 

One final note on potential damage. While the projected probability is very low, some do suggest checking out your home including the basement just to see if anything looks wrong. It is more likely that wind storms can cause property damage in Western New York.      


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