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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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RE: Bias? Fishiness?
By clovell on 5/26/2010 10:25:11 AM , Rating: 3
> They most certainly are not.

Yes, they most certainly are. Please pick up a textbook.

> Probability factors in previous events to calculate the potential for future events, excatly what this article is about.

No, probability doesn't do that. Bayesian inference, the inclusion of lag variables into a model, and autoregressive correlation structures all do that. However, it's not a default characteristic of probability.

> In the coin flip example, as you approach an infinite amount of tries, the probability approaches 50%. But if a coin flip turned up heads 9 times, then you have a higher probability that the next try will come up tails. But your chance stays independant.

Okay, now you're just being an idiot. That is exactly what I said is NOT true. Each coin flip is independent of all the others. The probability of a coin flipping heads after 9 tails is 50%. So is the chance.

Now, the probability of flipping 9 tails then a head is pretty low, but that's because you're talking about TEN independent events (if anyone cares, the answer is (1/2)^10).

> Suggest you read up on the actual differences between the two. It's not rocket science, just high school math. But look up Central Limit Theorem for more info.

I've a Master of Science in Biostatistics, junior. I suggest you read a textbook on statistics rather than regurgitating the crap they dumb down for you in your intro courses.

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