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The Big One


After the recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Northern Mexico, and China, we heard from plenty of you that it was time for a conversation about the seismic realities in our own backyard. We agree.

State geologists are clear: there’s a 10-14% chance that a major earthquake will hit Oregon in the next 50 years. While there are other faults in the Northwest, the big quake — which could reach a 9.0 magnitude — would come from the Cascadia Subduction Zone (pdf). It comes every 300 or so years, and the last one was was in 1700. Are our people and places ready for the next one?

When we asked what you want to hear about, the big theme that emerged was community preparedness, and we’ll tackle that with the head of Portland’s Office of Emergency Management. We’ll also take on the geology of the region with Portland State’s Scott Burns, and infrastructure readiness with the state bridge engineer. What else concerns you — or makes you curious?

What questions have the last few months of seismic devastation raised for you?

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