Category Archives: Cascadia Science

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.

Lots of recoveries, vent survey

This is Anton Ypma from the midnight shift – we had a great day and recovered a lot of seismometers. Only one failed to release it’s buoy, so we had to send the Jason down to help it out. The sea is getting a bit rougher than it has been, and due to the fact that the seismometers that we’re recovering now don’t have light beacons or radio transmitters on their buoys, we can’t recover them in the dark, so we’ve stopped for the night. We’re passing the time by scanning a (methane?) vent on the seafloor with the ships bathymetry equipment, and will begin recovering more OBSs at 6am tomorrow.