Earthquakes

A Volcano's Scream
10:51 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Before an Eruption, Scientists Record a Volcano's Primal Scream

Mt. Redoubt erupted violently in 2009, after letting out a primal "scream."
Max Kaufman Alaska Volcano Observatory/University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute

Most volcanoes rumble before they erupt, but Washington and Alaska researchers say a big recent eruption was preceded not by a rumble, but a scream.

Alaska’s Mount Redoubt blew its top several times in 2009. Leading up to many of the explosions were a series of little earthquakes—not uncommon for an active volcano. But these quakes began to accelerate, one after another, like a drumbeat building to a climax.

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earthquakes
10:50 am
Wed February 13, 2013

Rubble from New Zealand quake shows Seattle what to expect

Recovery workers at the CTV building in Christchurch, New Zealand, after it crumbled in an earthquake on Feb. 24, 2011.
Rob Griffith AP

The Northwest hasn’t had a killer earthquake since 1965 – and it’s been three centuries since anything massive shook this region. That’s how New Zealanders felt, until two years ago, when a quake knocked their third largest city to its knees. 

Lessons from Christchurch, NZ, and other Pacific Rim cities, are resonating at a meeting of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, in Seattle this week.

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Quake safety
9:49 am
Fri November 2, 2012

Quake cages proposed for Oregon schools

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portland architect Ben Kaiser has proposed a way to protect school children from earthquakes and save school districts money.

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Earthquake science
1:38 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

The earth's shaking a record amount in the Northwest

The range and path of the current episodic tremor and slip event still going on. You can interact with this map at http://www.pnsn.org/tremor.
Pacific Northwest Seismic Network

The Puget Sound region is experiencing a record “episodic tremor and slip” event, according to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

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Earthquakes
10:58 am
Thu September 27, 2012

New warning system could alert you seconds before quake hits

A pilot project shows what the quake warnings might look like.
U. S. Geological Survey

What would you do if you knew a major earthquake was about to strike in 10 seconds? Some scientists say even a few moments’ warning could save lives, and they’re setting up a system that might soon give Washingtonians time to act before the shaking starts.

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earthquakes
1:23 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Northwest states mapping liquefaction susceptibility

Soil liquefaction and lateral spreading in Tumwater, WA after the 2001 Nisqually Quake. Photo courtesy of UW College of Engineering

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 5:57 pm

Two major earthquakes last year raised red flags for the Northwest. Some of the damage from those quakes in Japan and New Zealand resulted from a phenomenon called liquefaction. This is when the ground turns to jello or quicksand. Transmission towers topple, buildings sink and utility pipes break. Now, geologists in the Northwest have mapped the spots most likely to liquefy here in an earthquake.

This summer, the sound of hydraulic jacks reverberates through upscale neighborhoods near Tokyo Bay. Look closer, and you'll notice some of the homes here are tilted.

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seismic surveys
2:40 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Endangered orcas cause delays for major earthquake research

The R/V Langseth uses sonar to study earthquake faults
Columbia University/Earth Institute

Updated 6/18/12, with comments and links from whale advocates.

An expensive science mission off the Washington and Oregon coasts has been scaled back, at least for now, out of concern for orca whales. A research ship is using blasts of sound to create maps of a major earthquake fault, which is considered the greatest tsunami risk along the U.S. Pacific coast.

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Emergency Preparedness
5:12 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Less than half in the NW, at best, prepared for earthquake

Ninth-grade students take part in a statewide earthquake drill in 2007 in Shoreline. Are you prepared?
The Associated Press

If you live in the Northwest, it's hard to escape the knowledge that the possibility of a major earthquake is real. 

Yet, far more than half of residents here are not prepared for such a disaster. Despite frequent campaigns encouraging homeowners to have at least a 3-day supply of emergency water, food and first aid on hand, authorities assume only 30-40 percent of us actually do.

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earthquake research
12:13 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Cruising the coast for signs of where 'the big one' will hit

The R/V Langseth will be studying the sea floor this summer off Washington's coast.
Columbia University/Earth Institute

One of the world’s most advanced research ships will be cruising along the Washington and Oregon coasts this month – to look for clues about giant earthquakes. 

A zone that runs parallel to the coast – but deep beneath the sea – is known to have unleashed mega-quakes in the past, similar to the one that caused the giant tsunami last year in Japan. The Cascadia fault zone runs about 700 miles alongside Vancouver Island, Washington and Oregon.

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earthquakes
5:30 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Geologists identify new earthquake faults near Bellingham

The newly discovered fault lines, like the one pictured above, are shallow and could cause significant damange.
Chris Gladis Flickr

Geologists have discovered two previously unknown earthquake faults – and possibly a third – near Bellingham. The scientists working for the U.S. Geological Survey believe the shallow faults are capable of spawning damaging tremors.

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Earthquake warning
4:08 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

Work begins on regional earthquake early warning system

USGS map of the earthquakes in the USA from November 22-29, 2011.

Originally published on Tue November 29, 2011 2:35 pm

A research grant announced Tuesday will allow seismologists to take the first steps toward an early warning system for earthquakes in the Northwest. An operational system is still a long way off, but it could eventually resemble the computerized warnings pioneered in Japan.

Back in March, some Japanese residents got an alert via cell phone or a TV screen pop-up. The alert warned them that severe shaking would begin within seconds.

Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network director John Vidale says an early warning, even of less than a minute, gives time to prepare.

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Earthquakes
2:16 pm
Fri September 9, 2011

6.4 quake reported off Vancouver Island, no damage

Wickaninnish Beach, Tofino, BC 5/22/2010
"somecanuckchick" flickr.com

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake occurred about 73 miles off the coast of Vancouver Island at 12:41 this afternoon. There are no reports of damage or injuries. A Royal Canadian Mounted Police dispatcher in Tofino, British Columbia, said most people there barely felt the quake. 

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) says it has inspected area bridges and all appear undamaged.

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NUCLEAR RISKS
3:06 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

Study: Earthquakes near Hanford not as unlikely as first thought

For years top scientists have said a big earthquake near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is highly unlikely in our lifetimes. Now, a new geological study is being published, and what it says is shaking up assumptions.

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Emergency Preparedness
11:49 am
Wed April 6, 2011

Japan tsunami heightens interest in elevated 'safe havens'

This is an artist's rendering of the proposed tsunami shelter/new city hall that officials hope to build in Cannon Beach, Ore.
Courtesy Ecola Architects, PC

If you’re near the coastline and a major earthquake strikes, the advice as always is to scramble for higher ground. But sometimes, high ground is far away. For example, if you’re in Ocean Shores or Seaside, Ore., the best option could be to head for the rooftop of a sturdy building, if there is one.

In Westport, and communities along the Northwest coast,  the horrible and gripping images of destruction from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami are still top-of-mind. In this fishing and beach resort town, retiree Linda Orgel is one of hundreds of coastal residents spurred to become better prepared. That interest is being channeled into planning and design meetings for a possible string of manmade refuge towers.

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Science
4:08 pm
Tue April 5, 2011

Scientists propose earthquake warning system

Damage in Seattle from the Nisqually Quake, Feb. 28, 2001. Could earthquake early-warning systems become common place on the U.S. West Coast?
AP

Earthquake scientists are hoping to build an early-warning system for Washington, Oregon and California.  It would give typically about five to 30 seconds of notice that a big quake was starting. The scientists have been meeting this week to craft a proposal. 

There’s no way to predict earthquakes. But once a big one starts, it sends out different kinds of shock waves that move at different speeds. One type is fast-moving, but barely perceptible. These are called P-waves. They arrive before the slow traveling but damaging shock waves (called S-waves).  

So, if you have precise sensors, they can detect the fast-moving waves and send out alarms. 

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