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This rendition of an OSU tsunami shelter prototype shows a large multi-story building on stilts, likely to lessen the impac of the base of a tidal wave crashing through its vicinity.  (Source: Oregon State University)
Shake, rattle, roll and splash -- major seismic event could ravage the pacific northwest twice over.

There have been no shortage of powerful and often, sometimes catastrophically, deadly earthquakes in the past ten years. Sumatra, Haiti, Japan, Chile and more have suffered to various degrees from the results of plate tectonics and the roiling seas of magma far below the surface of the planet. Though, in the US, California has a reputation for being earthquake-friendly, it is a far cry from the only threatened west coast state.

Based on data collected from the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which lies off the west cost of North America and runs from northern California up to British Columbia, Oregon State University marine geologist Chris Goldfinger and team says the chance of a quake of high magnitude, 8 or better, is unsettlingly high in the next fifty years. Using telltale signs of seismic activity, they have mapped out a time line of major events for the last 10,000 years. As it turns out, the pacific northwest is about due for a major earthquake.

According to their findings, the Cascadia has already gone past the 75% mark as far as a major event within a generally rhythmic period of time. Over the past 10,000 years, they have found evidence of 41 large events, spaced at roughly 500 year intervals. Should no event occur in the next 50 years, the chances jump to 85%. There is no doubt, feels Goldfinger, that the event is coming -- it's just a matter of time.

At present, he states there is an approximately 37% chance that a magnitude 8 or greater quake will hit the southern section of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which runs from northern California to near Newport, Oregon, in the next 50 years. Further north, the chance of an event is less -- 10% to 15% -- but with a better chance of being much stronger, magnitude 9 or greater.

Not all of the west coast is oblivious to this sleeping giant. Not only would a sizable off-shore event cause the standard stand-in-a-doorway building rumbling action, it would most certainly create a powerful tsunami in its wake. The last recorded high magnitude quake from the Cascadia was in 1700. Though no records exist from the Americas, Japanese historians recorded the ocean-traversing tsunami that reached their shore, crashing down at 30 or more feet in height.

The town of Cannon Beach, Oregon, is working with engineers from OSU to create an earthquake and tsunami shelter for its residents using advanced construction techniques and an eye for vertical space to stand above the wave. If completed, it may be the first tsunami shelter built outside of Japan.



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This place needs a good cleaning
By Dorkyman on 5/25/2010 12:55:58 PM , Rating: 4
Have lived in Oregon since 1990, and aside from the beautiful summers, this place needs a thorough cleaning. People are proud of their bumper stickers that say, "Keep Portland Weird" and are actively hostile to most conventional wisdom. So maybe a good cleansing would be good for the spirit, so to speak.

There is ample evidence that massive tsunamis have struck the Oregon coast as a result of the subduction zone activity offshore. Surely they will continue to do so, but there is still no way of accurately predicting where or when. In populated areas of the shore, though, tsunami sirens are in place, and high ground is not far away.




By clovell on 5/26/2010 10:54:11 AM , Rating: 2
Having lived through natural disasters, I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemies.


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