Study highlights growing risk for large magnitude earthquake for NW Pacific coast

August 2, 2012OREGONThe western US state of Oregon has a 40 percent chance in the next half-century of suffering a massive earthquake on the scale of Japan’s 2011 disaster, a study said Wednesday. The Pacific Northwest — from the Oregon-California border to Vancouver Island in Canada — has endured 19 huge earthquakes of around 8.7-9.2 magnitude over the past 10,000 years, Oregon State University researchers said. An additional 22 major earthquakes have impacted only the southern part of the so-called Cascadia fault that runs from the Oregon areas of Coos Bay to Newport, the study said. “The southern margin of Cascadia has a much higher recurrence level for major earthquakes than the northern end and, frankly, it is overdue for a rupture,” the study’s lead author Chris Goldfinger said in a statement. The study, published online by the US Geological Survey, estimated a 40 percent chance of a major earthquake around Coos Bay, Oregon, over the next 50 years. It said that the earthquake could be on the scale of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck in the Pacific Ocean near Japan on March 11, 2011. Some 19,000 people died as the tremor set off a devastating tsunami. But Oregon has far fewer preparations in place than Japan, which is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone nations. The Oregon State University study billed itself as the most comprehensive yet, which is based on 13 years of research including assessments of sediment to determine past seismic events. Oregon already had an oral history of earthquakes, with Native Americans speaking of a giant tremor in around 1700. Earthquake preparedness has triggered a major political debate in Oregon, with advocates warning that many schools and other buildings would be woefully inadequate in the event of a giant disaster. Critics say that the massive cost of upgrading Oregon’s infrastructure could be devoted to more pressing priorities for residents such as building roads. –YN
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19 Responses to Study highlights growing risk for large magnitude earthquake for NW Pacific coast

  1. I’m torn between moving back to the Pacific NW and risking ending up under a pile of rubble (in an earthquake) or staying here in the high desert SW where we have had two record breaking forest fires (with evacuations, which are very expensive if they last a long time). Even without fire encroaching, as this year, we had sickening smoke in June. I so miss the coolness of the Evergreen State (Washington) and know the loveliness of the Oregon coast from many trips there as a child (to Tillamook Head and Seaside). Drought forecasts are not encouraging about the future of the inland Southwest, any more than the Pacific Coast.


    • Columbine says:

      Mariel – where is your heart? Where is your passion? If you are a Christian, where do you believe God wants you to be right now? Only you can answer these questions. Where I live most of the time it is gray all winter long and I miss the sunlight of the desert southwest with such an intensity that sometimes I am moved to tears longing for it. I would move back to the SW in a heartbeat – but right now I do not have that option – God has called my husband and me elsewhere for the time being.

      One thing I know for sure – no matter where you live on this earth there is something that could kill you: earthquake, hurricane, drought, political instability, war, disease. Do what you know God is calling you to do and let Him protect you as He will, and let Him give you His peace that passes all understanding, no matter what the circumstances.


    • My first thought was, “come to West Virginia.” But then I remember the words from Isaiah 40: “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.”


    • SC says:

      Mariel, I recently moved back to Southern CA and had the same doubts you did. The way I handled this was that I knew what I was getting into; and my spirit guides insisted this was where I was supposed to be – so I didn’t question any more. I was shown there will be major seismic activity here, and I was also shown what type of construction I should live in (wood frame vs. concrete). I trust my guides, as they have always warned me of life-threatening events, and I followed my heart and soul which told me I had to come back to Southern CA. I tell you this because I think you should do the same – follow your heart and soul and pray to your angels/guardian spiritis to guide you. No place on this planet is safe, and if you’re trying to make a decision on that criteria, simply don’t bother. Listen to what is inside, you know where you need to be. God Bless You!


  2. Therese says:

    Woefully inadequate!! .. and a Debate!! I have met many people who have moved from the Southwest (California) area in an attempt to escape the big one. I am no longer naive about seismicity. There should be no debate. I for one have had several dreams that can easily fit into the structure of the Juan De Fuca and based on what I have learned after reviewing certain events that coincided with the New Madrid data — I would suggest there be no debate.


  3. Mary Beth says:

    We pray for wisdom, and trust He knows our time and season.


  4. Donna says:

    What the government knows/
    Thunder Bird and the Whale/ It’s happened before.


  5. michaelbix says:

    I disagree strongly with the statistics of this article, which are extremely conservative. The 245-year interval of 9-9.5 Cascadian ruptures is overdue by more than 65 years… so the “40% likelihood” is pulled from the air. 100% likelihood is more likely & even inevitable. Not only that, but side slip faults such as the S. Whidby Island fault & the Seattle fault (each in the 7.2-7.5 range) will be likely cross-triggered, with corresponding tsunamis of their own. Lost in this will be Victoria BC, Seattle WA, Richmond BC, Bellingham WA at the least. And the geologists also know there is almost *total* certainty that the North San Andreas (through San Francisco, Marin County) will be triggered by the Cascadian – as it has been every time in the known past geologic record. So count on also engaging (and likely losing) San Francisco & Oakland. If warning: warn realistically.


  6. michaelbix says:

    Follow-up: The most recent rupture of the Cascadian plate boundary was on 26 January, 1700. The local native people speak of it as “the wave which put the canoes into the trees.” Entire villages disappeared in the aftermath of the tsunamis, and all the rocky cliff-edged bluffs lining the Puget Sound (all “attractive” and over-built shoreline communities, both on top of and below the bluffs now, collapsed. Lake Seattle erupted with an active lava fountain, boiling the water & providing a surprise feast of cooked fish in the middle of a lean winter. The date is known precisely because the Japanese across the ocean were struck by the ensuing tsunami, and were already keeping date-accurate records. This article says “around 1700” and suggests its author is a sloppy researcher.


  7. Irene C says:

    You’re too fast for me, Alvin. I was going to tell you about this article, late this morning, when I saw you already had a similar article.–+Top+Science%29

    On another note: We now have Tropical Storm Ernesto churning in the Atlantic. It’s about 295 miles east of Windward Islands with max winds of 50 mph


  8. Sam Beckett says:

    I live here in California, and I know it is not if, just when the San Andreas & the Cascadia fault have a big earthquake. Each are over due according to the number of earthquakes in the past. The last Cascadia eruption in the 1700’s sent a huge tsunami to Japan that killed thousands….that is a lot of power. When that happens again, Seattle will be reduced to rubble, that city has zero preparation for earthquakes, meaning their buildings are not safe in earthquakes…among many other cities. The Cascadia fault line was only discovered a few years ago…going to be a very bad day when it happens


  9. Pray4love says:

    We are all addicted to doom on this site lol


    • Brandon says:

      Hi, Prayin4love. If it bothers you so much you’re more than welcome to leave. Nobody’s obligated to stay. Alvin only reports the news. He doesn’t create it. I LOVE this site.
      God bless you,


    • Marta says:

      Keep praying for Love. But, Jesus said when you SEE this happening… we on this site SEE …
      Look up!!!

      There is comfort when we have a sense of community .. Alvin has created a truth giving, love sharing community, where some of us who once felt alone now know we are not.

      I know that we pray for each other and some day we may even meet!
      Thank you Jesus, Bless you Alvin!

      PS Read Alvin’s Books!!!


  10. Needless to say, Alvin, you really caught my eye with this article! I live just seven miles from Newport and have yet to hear anything about it on the local news, which to me shows just how much people here in Oregon and Washington are ignoring the threat. Whenever I mention the strong probability of a severe quake in this area I usually get that “are you nuts?” look. The Cascadia is seriously overdue for a massive quake, and around here earthquake preparedness is a subject that only a few of the emergency management types discuss amongst themselves. Occasionally there will be a thirty second piece on the local TV news or an article in one of the papers, but as usual the “experts” try to downplay the odds. Thanks for this catch, my friend!


  11. philskill says:

    scarry stuff if you ask me.


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