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Oregon's Next Huge Earthquake: Not If, But When

Environment  (tags: americans, challenge, earthquake, preparations, Oregon )

- 1888 days ago -
The clock is ticking on the next big earthquake in the Pacific Northwest, and experts fear it will be a monster. Note: this is for science information and not scare tactics.

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Kit B (276)
Monday March 18, 2013, 9:27 am
The Pacific Northwest is woefully unprepared for a major earthquake like the one that struck Chile in 2010.

The clock is ticking on the next big earthquake in the Pacific Northwest, and experts fear it will be a monster.

Following the deadly magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011, Oregon legislators commissioned a study of the impact a similar quake could have on the state, according to the Associated Press.

The report, "Oregon Resilience Plan: Reducing Risk and Improving Recovery for the Next Cascadia Earthquake and Tsunami," was presented to legislators Thursday (March 14).

Within its pages is a chilling picture of death and destruction that would cripple the entire Pacific Northwest, from Northern California to British Columbia.

More than 10,000 people killed. Bridges, dams, roadways and buildings including Oregon's State Capitol in Salem in a state of utter collapse. No water, electricity, natural gas, heat, telephone service or gasoline in some cases, for months. Economic losses in excess of $30 billion.

The seismically active region has felt temblors before, most notably a massive earthquake and tsunami in January 1700 that wiped out entire forests in what is now Oregon and Washington and caused a deadly tsunami in Japan, thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean. [Waves of Destruction: History's Biggest Tsunamis]

"This earthquake will hit us again," Kent Yu, chair of the commission that developed the report, told Oregon legislators, according to the Daily Mail. "It's just a matter of how soon."

That titanic 1700 shaker was a megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia Fault, a seismic zone that stretches for almost 700 miles (1,100 kilometers) just off the Pacific Northwest coast. Based on current understanding of the fault's seismic history, scientists estimate quakes occur along the line roughly every 240 years.

In other words, another big Cascadia Fault earthquake is "long overdue," the International Science Times reports.

The report also noted that, geologically speaking, Japan and Oregon are mirror images of each other. There is, however, one important difference: Japan is much more prepared for earthquakes.

And Oregon is hardly the only region of North America overdue for a large earthquake: The Lake Tahoe region on the California-Nevada border is home to the West Tahoe Fault, which generally sees a quake every 3,000 to 4,000 years, and the most recent temblor occurred 4,500 years ago.

Elsewhere in California, the southern San Andreas Fault last produced a big temblor in 1690, and has been relatively quiet ever since. That isn't good news, since a major earthquake usually occurs there every 180 years, according to recent research, and the fault line now has more than 300 years of pressure built up.

Whereas the West Coast is usually considered the most seismically active region of North America, the East Coast also has earthquakes, just not as often. Fault lines have recently been discovered near New York City, and the Indian Point nuclear power plant, about 24 miles (39 km) north of the city, straddles the previously unidentified intersection of two active seismic zones.

In virtually all of these regions, preparation for earthquakes has been woefully inadequate, say many experts. Maree Wacker, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross of Oregon, laments the state of readiness: "Oregonians as individuals are underprepared," Wacker told the Daily Mail.

Correction: This article was updated on March 18, 2013, to note the proper location of Oregon's state capitol building in Salem (not Eugene, as previously stated).

By: Marc Lallanilla, | Assistant Editor | Live Science |


Past Member (0)
Monday March 18, 2013, 10:49 am
Something else to worry about.

divergent revolution (309)
Monday March 18, 2013, 12:05 pm
They just had one in l.a.
it was only a 5 on the richter scale, friends there said they didn't really feel it,idk
But they'd feel a 9 by golly...
Very interesting and a bit scary,thanks Kit
I won't kill the messenger

Angelika R (143)
Monday March 18, 2013, 1:10 pm
Science IS scary and horrifying, no doubt. It's been out there for long and people know it but noone wants to keep the thought alive in their everyday routine. I used to watch the daily statistics and measures in CA for a while, they have quakes going unnoticed nearly daily. thx Kit. The "not if but when" goes likely for more states than Oregon.

Erin R (181)
Monday March 18, 2013, 3:07 pm
Worrisome news! (I'm from Seattle, Washington.)

pam w (139)
Monday March 18, 2013, 3:25 pm
Well? What are public safety agencies and cities DOING about it?


Eternal Gardener (745)
Monday March 18, 2013, 4:25 pm
Holy moly, so many natural disasters going on everywhere... hadn't heard of this particular threat yet, maybe because of the distraction of living in bushfire, drought, extreme heat & flood stricken Oz? Or maybe just because the media can't see the forest for the trees anymore... disaster overload!

Lois Jordan (63)
Monday March 18, 2013, 4:55 pm
Noted. This is particularly worrisome because of that radioactive waste that's been stored and is now leaking, in WA I believe. There have been many articles regarding that recently, but the name of the town has escaped my memory right now.

Angelika R (143)
Monday March 18, 2013, 5:15 pm
Lois is talking aboutBut that is by far not the only problem.

Angelika R (143)
Monday March 18, 2013, 5:15 pm
oops-HANFORD was typed there.

Theodore Shayne (56)
Monday March 18, 2013, 5:47 pm

Jason S (50)
Monday March 18, 2013, 8:05 pm
Good posting, thanks

Kit B (276)
Monday March 18, 2013, 9:17 pm

I have not been able to send out green stars. I keep getting an "ERROR" message.

Robert O (12)
Monday March 18, 2013, 10:07 pm
It's true that the west coast is long overdue for a big one. Let's hope it takes all measures necessary to minimize damages and especially casualties. Thanks Kit.

Patricia H. (440)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 12:23 am

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 4:18 am
Noted. Thanks.

Ro H (0)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 4:47 am

Helen Porter (39)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 4:49 am
No vacations in Oregon!

Susanne R (234)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 8:13 am
What an awful thing to have to worry about! But then, there's always something...

Jo S (619)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 8:16 am

Beverly T (82)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 9:16 am
I live on the Texas Gulf Coast. the last hurricane to hit here with real damage was 43 years ago.
We are truly OVERDUE. Every season I worry about "the next one".
Give me a hurricane any day. We can be warned and GET OUT OF THE WAY !!!!!
An earthquake is a complete...... SURPRISE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Marcel E (347)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 10:45 am
noted thanks

Kit B (276)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 11:01 am

Bev, did you forget Ike? No, not as bad as some we have had, it lost wind power as it came inland, but it was huge. One of the largest ever recorded. My son gives time to work as a volunteer with De Mort and there was a lot of clean up that was hardly reported.

Stephanie Reap (192)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 11:28 am
noted. TY

Jade N (22)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 4:52 pm
i've heard we're overdue for an earthquake, too bad i live here

Tammy B (9)
Tuesday March 19, 2013, 6:04 pm
thank you

cathie S (154)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 12:55 am
all done tyvm

Jo S (619)
Wednesday March 20, 2013, 6:23 am
This really needs to be brought to the
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