What is the Cascadia Initiative?

Dean Livelybrooks here blogging in English.  You may wonder why we are out at sea dropping and recovering ocean-bottom seismometers and pressure gauges.  One of our scientific goals is to collect data about small earthquakes and seafloor uplift or deformation that, in turn, tells us about the ‘locked zone’ where the next big Cascadia earthquake will occur.  We can’t detect these earthquakes from on-shore.

While this won’t help us predict exactly when this earthquake will occur, it can help us understand HOW that earthquake will happen, including providing upper limits on the extent of rupture, for example.  This, in turn, can give details to scenarios involving tsunamis, including predicting the size of a tsunami that would innundate the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

A practical application of this is for the city of Seaside, Oregon.  Seaside lies within a tsunami zone and is at risk of submersion and damage from a Cascadia-related tsunami.  Their city web site has a map giving practical escape routes should an earthquake or tsunami warning occur.  These are over bridges that are seismically retrofit to stay intact during a large Cascadian earthquake.  City leaders considered building a structure within the zone that would stand above an incoming tsunami.  One question is, how high off the ground does one make this structure?  Engineers considering this would use ‘the best science available’ to address this question.  One of Cascadia Intiative’s jobs is to make ‘the best science…’ better.

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