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Monday, April 11, 2011

4.3 quake off southern Oregon Coast

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Given the craziness happening under the sea off Japan, this area is worth watching.

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"The Oregon coast is due for a major earthquake, followed by a tsunami that could inundate beaches and low-lying areas in Curry County, James Roddey told disaster preparedness meetings in Gold Beach and Port Orford this week [Jan 15, 2011]."

"Earthquakes with a magnitude of 8.0 or greater occur off the coast of Southern Oregon on an average of every 311 years. The last major earthquake was in the year 1700."

This is the big one -- which produced a tsunami recorded in Japan in 1700 -- to which researchers refer when advising that the Port Orford segment of the Cascadia Subduction Zone is "due."

O course, if we're going to fret about a big one being due along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, then we really should recall that a very, very big one is about due in Yellowstone, where the supervolcano is bigger than previously thought:

"The hot spot finally reached Yellowstone about 2 million years ago, yielding three huge caldera eruptions about 2 million, 1.3 million and 642,000 years ago.

Two of the eruptions blanketed half of North America with volcanic ash, producing 2,500 times and 1,000 times more ash than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state. Smaller eruptions occurred at Yellowstone in between the big blasts and as recently as 70,000 years ago."

Meanwhile, 300mi NE of the 4.3, local officials observe and prepare, suggesting steps residents might take:

"The recent 9.0 magnitude earthquake in Japan is a reminder the Pacific Northwest is also in a seismically active region. Our last catastrophic quake was geologically similar to the one in Japan and struck off the West Coast on January 26, 1700. Scientists expect it is only a matter of time before pressure builds along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, causing a region-wide quake with significant structural damage to buildings, injuries to thousands and potential loss of life."

And yet, a primary hospital and the sole non-naturopathic medical school in this state is perilously perched on a fragile hillside.

Another reason to keep an eye on the slash and burn budget "negotiations" in DC:

"'This [Japan's 9.0] is a well-instrumented earthquake, in a comparable setting [to the Pacific Northwest], and I think we're going to learn a lot,' Vidale says. He estimates that installing such a response system in the Cascadia region would cost about $50 million, plus at least $1 million each year to monitor.

Compared with up to $100 billion in economic damage which, at the time of writing [11 Mar], the United States Geological Survey is predicting for the catastrophe in Japan from shaking alone (not including tsunami damage), it may be a worthwhile investment."

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