Scientists have outlined their tips on how to survive the earthquake that will hit the Pacific Northwest. The killer quake along Cascadia, a fault line which runs from Cape Mendocino, California, to Vancouver Island, Canada, is 72 years overdue, according to peer-reviewed studies. The feared ‘Big One’ will hit when Juan de Fuca, a 700-mile chunk of the Pacific Ocean, slides under Canada and America, causing the entire coastal region to sink at least six feet.
When – not if – it arrives, it is unlikely the people of coastal Oregon, Washington and California will be able to escape. But scientists are still offering tips to those who want to be as prepared as possible. Some might consider these “tips” rather odd and ridiculous.
“Run, don’t drive, to higher ground,” shared Kevin Cupples, the city planner for the town of Seaside, Oregon, in an interview with the New Yorker. The force of the quake will cause liquefaction, when solid ground acts like liquid, across vast swathes of the porous region. In the areas that aren’t ‘liquefied’, the highways will likely be crumpled by landslides, with 30,000 avalanches set to hit Seattle alone. Citizens will have a 20-minute interval to climb to the highest altitude possible before the full force of the tsunami hits, scientists predict. Their alert will be when dogs start barking. The first sign the quake is coming will be a set of compressional waves, only audible by dogs. Then there will be the quake, then 20 minutes later, the tsunami. Geographers estimate that many could survive just by walking – however, they need to be going at least 3.5mph. “If everyone ups their average speed from 2.5mph to 3.5mph, the death toll drops to 15,970. About 70 per cent of them would be in Washington, nearly 30 per cent in Oregon and only 4 per cent in California.”
Another tip was offered. “When that tsunami is coming, you run,’ Jay Wilson, the chair of the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission, told the New Yorker. “You protect yourself, you don’t turn around, you don’t go back to save anybody. You run for your life.”
The only other safety measure is to relocate away from the Pacific north west.
The Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) ‘megathrust’ fault is a 1,000km-long line that separates the Juan de Fuca, a 700-mile chunk in the Pacific Ocean, and North America plates. For more than 300 years, the two plates have been pushing against one another. Eventually, the Juan de Fuca will be pushed underneath the North America plate, causing the region to sink at least six feet.
Experts insist they have been lobbying city planners to take more affirmative action, such as banning construction on the targeted coastal areas. Some parts of Oregon have made it illegal to build schools in the red zone, but not hotels or retirement homes. Ocasta Elementary School south of Westport, Washington, is building a new gymnasium tall enough for the roof to serve as a tsunami evacuation structure. Pacific County is seeking a grant to build a large berm next to Long Beach Elementary School for the same purpose.