Science

Study Suggests Oregon Overdue For Big Quake

OPB | May 24, 2010 11 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:08 a.m. | Portland, OR

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By Sam Sanders

A new study finds that Oregon may be overdue for a big earthquake. OPB's Sam Sanders reports.


Oregon State University researchers found that there's a one in three chance a major earthquake will hit the Pacific Northwest in the next 50 years.

But the chances of a big quake, aren't the same for the whole region.

The probability of a big one from Newport, Oregon to Northern California is about 37% over the next 50 years. From Seaside north to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, the chance of a powerful earthquake is only 10 to 15 percent.

OSU professor Chris Goldfinger led the study:

Chris Goldfinger: "A number like 10-15 percent chance in 50 years is not something that strikes the immediate note of urgency. But a 37 percent chance in 50 years means that it's really something that could happen in our lifetimes. It's not just a remote possibility anymore."

Goldfinger says Oregonians must work to make sure buildings are earthquake ready as well as educate residents on what to do if the big one hits.

The last Northwest earthquake with a magnitude greater than 8.2 happened in January of 1700.

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