Print 28 comment(s) - last by clovell.. on May 26 at 10:54 AM

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.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Bias? Fishiness?
By consumerwhore on 5/25/2010 2:23:00 PM , Rating: 2
The atricle relies heavily on this "poor man's law of averages", which is the idea that the more you 'luck out' or 'win', the more 'due' you are for a loss. Statistics 101: The poor man's law of averages is the single most fundamental lie with regards to the laws of mathematics.

Err... I'm sorry but when did we start talking about roulette and blackjack? This is about earthquakes, i.e. stress build-up in the earth's crust. The more you blow air in a balloon, the more "you are due" of it blowing up in your face.

RE: Bias? Fishiness?
By clovell on 5/26/2010 10:51:03 AM , Rating: 2
> Err... I'm sorry but when did we start talking about roulette and blackjack?

I didn't say anything about roulette or blackjack. You did.

The study 'predicts'. Predictions are based on our understanding of how things work. Unfortunately, as quantum physics has shown, there's a lot of stuff we don't understand, and a lot of variabiliity in the natural world. That's why, across virtually every discipline of science, statistics is key to prediction.

The balloon analogy is over-simplified. We're talking about the Earth here. Realize that volcanos are erupting, earthquakes are happening, and tsunamis are rolling in other parts of the globe, as well. Realize that the magnetic field of magma currents likely affects the pressure distribution - etc, etc.

Thus the need to tease out these other effects quantitatively, rather through warm fuzzies, via statistics (complete / marginal models with advanced selection methods). My point was twofold: the article was not clear as to the basis for such a conclusion, and we should consider, if only briefly, that there may be other forces at work here.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki