The Really Big One

ILLUSTRATION BY CHRISTOPH NIEMANN; MAP BY ZIGGYMAJ / GETTY

ILLUSTRATION BY CHRISTOPH NIEMANN; MAP BY ZIGGYMAJ / GETTY

The New Yorker's Kathryn Schulz features an informative article addressing the robust seismic history of the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ), what to expect in the event of a CSZ earthquake, and how ill prepared we are.  At first glance, the information is alarming and perhaps frightening to the layman who’s not intimately familiar with the science and mechanics of earthquakes generated in the Pacific Northwest.  Therefore, the reader should acknowledge the New Yorker article as simply one of many educational sources available.  The reader should focus on the theme of the article which is to inform and raise awareness of the seismic hazard that is an inherent part of life for coastal and inland communities residing in the Pacific Northwest, and that everyone from individual homeowners to local and state governments needs to be doing much more to prepare for a CSZ event. 

Those of us in the geoscience and geoengineering community acknowledge it’s not if, but when the next CSZ earthquake will occur.  Therefore, as design professionals we are charged with educating our clients and communities on awareness and preparedness.  As part of Foundation Engineering’s outreach, we encourage questions related to this topic or any other geotechnical or geologic topic. 

All questions may be forwarded to our professional staff via info@foundationengr.com.  Please state your question topic in the subject line.

Other informative resources that focus on CSZ earthquakes are available through the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), and emergency management services found in most communities.  One of the most up to date, comprehensive reports that addresses seismic risk and recovery for Oregon is The Oregon Resilience Plan.  The report was released in February 2013 and was prepared by a diverse group of professionals that formed the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Committee.