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New USGS Earthquake Maps Underscore NW Seismic Risks

The U.S. Geological Survey Thursday published its first updated earthquake maps in six years - showing higher risks in the Pacific Northwest.  The new maps are a synthesis of new research and up-to-date modeling techniques, applied to seismic hazards across the country.

Oregon State University marine geologist Chris Goldfinger says much of the research the USGS used is familiar to Northwest scientists and policymakers.

He says it helped guide the Oregon Resilience Plan released last year. Goldfinger says the USGS follows a painstaking process to pull together the best science on earthquake risks.

“It’s really the gold standard for the seismic policy of the nation, really - all over the country,” Goldfinger said. “Even though it takes longer, when it finally does come out, it carries a lot of weight. It’s followed by engineers, in terms of building codes.”

Goldfinger says the new maps include updated research on Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquakes.  The research finds that they have likely been occurring off the Oregon Coast more often than initially believed.