Earthquake preparations need to start now, expert advises federal officials

May 22, 2015 by Michelle Klampe, Oregon State University
Dr. Scott Ashford has been named the Dean of the College of Engineering at Oregon State University. Ashford has previously served as Head of the School of Civil and Construction Engineering, as well as serving as Interim Dean. He is a respected leader and scholar within the campus community, in Oregon and internationally. (contributed photo)

Developing the resilience to withstand a massive earthquake along the Pacific Northwest's Cascadia Subduction Zone is the responsibility of public agencies, private businesses and individuals, and that work should be under way now, Oregon State University's Scott Ashford advised Congressional leaders this week in Washington, D.C.

"It will take 50 years for us to prepare for this impending earthquake," Scott Ashford, Kearney Professor and dean of the OSU College of Engineering, said in testimony this week before the U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management.

"The time to act is before you have the earthquake. Everybody needs to take some responsibility and start preparing now."

Earthquake preparation – or lack thereof – is not an issue unique to Oregon, Ashford noted – 42 U.S. states have significant earthquake faults. Recent research on the New Madrid Fault Line indicates the risk of earthquakes is much higher than previously thought in this major seismic zone that spans seven states, including Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.

"In Alaska, Hawaii and California, you don't have to convince people there is a risk of earthquakes, but we haven't had much in the Midwest, so preparedness is not a top-of-mind concern for residents in this region," said Ashford, an international expert who has studied the impact of subduction zone earthquakes in much of the Pacific Rim, including the devastating 2011 quake in Japan.

The focus of the Congressional hearing was planning and preparing for seismic hazards in the Pacific Northwest. The region is vulnerable to the threat of a mega, 9.0-magnitude earthquake, which could significantly damage roads, bridges, buildings, sewers, gas and water lines, electrical system and more across the region.

Ashford urged the committee to support three federal initiatives:

  • Investments in more resilient transportation networks that will be critical to rescue, relief, and recovery efforts following a natural disaster, and required for the economy to recover following an earthquake
  • Partnerships with states to require seismic resilience of federally regulated utilities that transport liquid fuel through pipelines and that supply the majority of a state's population such as in Oregon
  • Investments in applied research to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used most effectively as private companies, the public, and local, state and federal agencies work to improve resilience to an eventual .

Business and governmental leaders in Oregon have begun to prepare for a mega-quake. The Oregon Resilience Plan, which was completed in early 2013, outlines more than 140 recommendations to reduce risk and improve recovery from a massive earthquake and tsunami that is anticipated on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. In 2014, the Governor's Task Force on Resilience Plan Implementation, chaired by Ashford, submitted to the Oregon legislature a comprehensive program to save lives, mitigate damage and prepare for a costly, life-threatening disaster that is seen as both catastrophic and inevitable.

"The house subcommittee wanted to know what our task force had learned in Oregon through the Oregon Resilience Plan project and how our recommendations can serve as models to help other states," Ashford said.

Oregon State has also established the Cascadia Lifelines Program, a research initiative to help improve critical infrastructure performance during an anticipated major earthquake. Partners in the program include public agencies and private utilities such as Portland General Electric and Northwest Natural Gas.

"The agencies are working collectively on this issue," Ashford said. "Orchestrating the actions, agendas and investments in research of different stakeholders is a big step in the right direction."

More research is needed to determine how best to identify and mitigate problems stemming from a massive earthquake.

"OSU research helps quantify the risks and determine how, in Oregon, we can address those risks," Ashford said. "We can't simply replace all of our existing infrastructure. We may need to find ways to retrofit, replace or repair things quickly after an earthquake."

One thing individuals can do is establish an emergency plan and keep on hand enough provisions such as food, water and medicine to survive up to 14 days without outside aid. In a major quake, many roads will likely be inaccessible and power could be out for weeks or longer, Ashford said.

"People are going to be on their own a lot longer than previously thought," he said.

Explore further: Map outlines western Oregon landslide risks from a subduction zone earthquake

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16 comments

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gkam
2.3 / 5 (3) May 22, 2015
A Cascadia quake would be a real killer, and perhaps induce more volcanic activity in the Sisters, which already seem to be bulging.
Water_Prophet
1 / 5 (3) May 22, 2015
Or could it be...
Fraking?

It is just that while it is not actually suppressed that fraking will cause faults and cracks in the ceramic that is our bedrock, and that Earthquakes are occurring in tectonically stable parts of the world, would you call it, oppressed? Spammed to death?

It's hard to say, but keep in mind,fracking doesn't pay itself back for something like another 25 years.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) May 22, 2015
A Cascadia quake would be a real killer, and perhaps induce more volcanic activity in the Sisters, which already seem to be bulging.
Say arent you the guy who said there were (2) 4+ mag earthquakes near him when there was only one at 3.6? Maybe by 'real killer' you actually mean this:
https://www.youtu...aTzyDe4s

-I mean, who's to know WTF youre talking about?
Estevan57
3.7 / 5 (3) May 22, 2015
There is no fracking in Oregon and Washington.
gkam
2.3 / 5 (3) May 22, 2015
No fracking, but if the waste at Hanford reaches the Columbia River, we are dead.
gkam
2.3 / 5 (3) May 22, 2015
Loma Prieta was many miles away, and not the Big One, but the ground here rolled like ocean waves. The wiki warriors should go through one some time, so their entire lives are not in the display of the computer and the Tee-Vee.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) May 24, 2015
Loma Prieta was many miles away, and not the Big One, but the ground here rolled like ocean waves. The wiki warriors should go through one some time, so their entire lives are not in the display of the computer and the Tee-Vee
Hey I heard there was a strip club somewhere that weathered the same quake. I suppose now the strippers there can be depended upon for cogent insights into quake science.

Do you ever get an inkling of how full of shit you are?
gkam
1 / 5 (2) May 24, 2015
East coast otto isfunny. The nation started there, and prospered for a while, but has moved West since, where the future gets invented. The Easterners are still stuck with the Old Ways of Thinking, with corporations and crooked politicians having everything already divided up, with the goobers paying the bill.

They do not understand how we can use alternative energy when their wiki says we can't. Some of them think the job responsibilities are exactly the same for all engineers, and if you do not have that word on your diploma, you do not get the title.

Hilarious!! Did they all work in the library, or HR?
gkam
1 / 5 (2) May 24, 2015
I may have a VA psychologist interested in the "otto syndrome", wherein anonymous maladjusted folk use phony names and bullying attitudes to get noticed on the internet. It is compensation for a wasted life or one with no apparent future.

Their words show them up as not having an education or experience in most fields, and they hate anybody else who has either. This is going to be interesting. It will take a while for them to go through all the nasty comments, but we can have a report in a month or so.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) May 25, 2015
What does that have to do with your penchant for making up earthquake statistics or thinking you can predict them just because you sat through a few?

What makes you think you're an engineer (actually better than an engineer) because you learned s few calcs? You have no idea what it takes to be one and you don't care. You'd rather pretend to be one just because you once had a position labeled 'engineer' and you think this is enough.

It's pretty obvious that your whole world is a lie George. And what do shrinks think about people who think they are what they aren't or who can foretell the future?

You think people who challenge your greatness should have their heads examined. But I think that people who think they know anything about how a power plant works just because they walked through one, should have their head examined.

You continue to post lies and nonsense and your insanity will continue to be exposed. This is the voice of your conscience speaking George.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) May 25, 2015
"One thing individuals can do is establish an emergency plan and keep on hand enough provisions such as food, water and medicine to survive up to 14 days without outside aid."

This will kill any govt plan.
Can't have the govt admit they won't be able to take care of you at any time.
gkam
1 / 5 (2) May 25, 2015
Who is otto now explaining to? It is the VA counselor now interested in the "otto Syndrome".

Notice how otto did not scream "liar" and "bullshit" in all caps this time? Somebody is watching him now. Too late, otto, we have months of your maladjusted and nasty screeds for evidence. We will get an interesting report.

The VA counselors get folk who have been stressed past the elastic limit, doing the things the stat-at-home "patriots" never experience. But they never get folk with really poor character, because the service weeds out the screamers like otto.

And it is not exactly a mystery, is it, when bad character fits all the symptoms.

Too late,otto. You should not have bragged how you are an anonymous sniper, playing your "games" with the real people in these fora.

gkam
1 / 5 (2) May 25, 2015
I sure hope Ryggy does not get Social Security!

Do you, Ryggy? Are you on the dole?

Ever take unemployment? Food stamps?

Me neither, but I realize government is the only thing between us and the rich Bad Guys.
gkam
1 / 5 (2) May 25, 2015
If you think it is only us in the West with earthquake worries, you probably do not know about the North Anna nuke plant.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) May 26, 2015
Notice how otto did not scream "liar" and "bullshit" in all caps this time?
Well ok if you insist... Youre a stinking LIAR and a smelly BULLSHIT artist. And well documented I might add.

Funny I dont hear any sirens you retard.
gkam
1 / 5 (2) May 26, 2015
"Funny I dont hear any sirens you retard."
---------------------------------------------

That's because the sirens at North Anna FAILED. I guess you failed to read the article.

Do you live near that radioactive turkey?

And again, it's too late,otto. You should not have bragged how you are an anonymous sniper, playing your "games" with the real people in these fora.

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