Lessons remain vital four years after deadly Japan earthquake, tsunami

Originally posted on Ear to the Ground:

On March 11 four years ago, the earth reminded us of its destructive and unstoppable power when a magnitude 9 earthquake touched off a tsunami and caused tens of thousands of deaths and devastated much of the nation’s infrastructure.

Waves from the tsunami reached the coast of Washington and other western states, where they damaged California coastal communities and washed some of the estimated 1.5 million tons of debris on shores.

Not only is the anniversary a time to remember those lost in Japan, but it should also serve as a reminder that Washington needs to be prepared for a similar geologic hazard threat.

An earthquake fault with similar potential lies just off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. Geologists say it is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ the Cascadia fault off our coast unleashes another mega quake. To get a picture of what we may…

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Remembering the 2001 Nisqually earthquake…and preparing for the next one

Do you know what to do if an earthquake were to happen today?

February 28th marks the 14-year anniversary of the 2001 M6.8 Nisqually earthquake and it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on being prepared for geologic emergencies.

Earthquakes, tsunamis, and landslides are all geologic hazards that we face in Washington. Though these events cannot be predicted precisely, they are inevitable—it’s just a matter of when and where.

When an earthquake happens, there will not be time to Google what you are supposed to do (Drop! Cover! Hold On!). After the earthquake, the internet might not work at all. Know what to do ahead of time and be prepared.


The February TsuInfo Alert newsletter is now published

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TSUINFO ALERT IS A BI-MONTHLY newsletter that links scientists, emergency responders, and community planners to the latest tsunami research. This newsletter is published by the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geology and Earth Resources on behalf of the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, a state/federal partnership funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It is made possible by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency via the Washington Military Department, Division of Emergency Management.

February, 2015 (v. 17, no. 1) [PDF; 1 MB]

Newly published: Rock aggregate resource inventory map of Pierce County, Washington

We are pleased to announce the release of a new publication!

Rock aggregate resource inventory map of Pierce County, Washington
by
Daniel W. Eungard and Jessica L. Czajkowski

Ever wonder where the best and worst rock aggregate is within Pierce County? This question keeps us up at night and here is the answer!

Ever wonder where the best and worst rock aggregate is within Pierce County? This question keeps us up at night and here is the answer!

Summary: Rock aggregate is one of the fundamental building blocks of roads, bridges, and buildings that use concrete. Luckily for us in Washington, the Pleistocene glaciers that once covered all of the Puget Lowland deposited vast amounts of these valuable resources as they advanced and retreated. Ever-expanding population centers, however, threaten the availability of these aggregate resources. 

This publication continues DGER’s work to map and characterize the sand, gravel, and bedrock resources of Washington. This effort aids county and regional planners as they consider which areas should be reserved for future aggregate resource development.

The Washington Geological Survey Celebrates its 125th Birthday

125th_anniversary_logo On February 25th, the Washington Geological Survey will be 125 years old. In that time we’ve accomplished a lot, and there’s still so much more fascinating geology to uncover. Below is an infographic depicting the history of the Washington Geological Survey. Click on the image or here to open the full-sized poster as a PDF.

It’s interesting to see how the focus of the Survey has steadily shifted from mining and mineral assessments in the early days to geologic mapping and hazard assessments over the last 40 or so years.

It’s interesting to see how the focus of the Survey has steadily shifted from mining and mineral assessments in the early days to geologic mapping and hazard assessments over the last 40 or so years.

You can find more information about the early days of the Survey in Washington Geologic Newsletters v. 19, no. 1,  v. 18, no. 2, and v. 19, no. 2.

January 26, 1700 Cascadia earthquake anniversary

Status

We are at the mercy of the Juan de Fuca plate, a major player in our geologic future.

We are at the mercy of the Juan de Fuca plate, a major player in our geologic past, present, and future.

I am so glad I wasn’t alive 315 years ago today. Not only were there no espresso or Netflix, two items I deem necessary for survival, that day in particular was probably spectacular in terms of its awfulness. At around 9:00 pm, a 1,000 km rupture along the Cascadia subduction zone offshore of Washington, Oregon, and California produced a Magnitude 9 megathrust earthquake. The quake generated a tsunami that reached the coast of Japan about 4,700 miles away. Scientists like Brian Atwater with the U.S. Geological Survey have spent much of their careers pulling tidbits of information out of stumps that were submerged during that event.

American Museum of Natural History—Reading the Geologic Record: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yz9ioAIaJVA&feature=youtu.be

 

It’s completely safe to assume that this will happen again in our lifetimes. Are we prepared for this? I’m not, although I do have earthquake insurance. While the thought of simultaneous espresso and Netflix withdrawals is daunting, even more so are the likelihood of temporary food shortages, no electricity, fractured transportation networks, uncertain access to clean water, injuries, fatalities, civil unrest, and poor sanitation conditions due to broken pipes.

After work today, I’m going to come up with a disaster plan for my family (including my pets) and assemble our three-day supply of food and water, coffee, flashlights, batteries, blankets, extra clothing, analog entertainment, and first-aid supplies. I’m going to start here: http://mil.wa.gov/preparedness.

It can’t hurt to prepare, and through doing this, I would also conveniently be ready for a global coffee shortage, a zombie uprising, or the sudden inability to stream multiple seasons of Doctor Who.

Ocosta tsunami school hopes to be example for coastal communities

Originally posted on Ear to the Ground:

Ocosta students use golden clam guns to break ground on a new school that will double as a tsunami evacuation structure at Westport. Ocosta students use golden clam guns to break ground on a new school that will double as a tsunami evacuation structure at Westport.

Students armed with golden clam guns broke ground on the nation’s first vertical evacuation structure at Westport Thursday, kicking off construction of a project emergency officials hope will be imitated along the Cascadia subduction zone.

The Ocosta School District is building a new elementary school in Westport that includes the tsunami refuge atop the gymnasium.

Westport lies just off the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a 600-mile-long fault that runs from northern California to Vancouver Island, leaving it vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis.

When built, the tsunami refuge will be capable of holding more than 1,000 people atop the 30-foot building designed to withstand both a megathrust Cascadia earthquake and the pounding of tsunami waves.

“If a tsunami were to strike, there wouldn’t be much time to get to higher…

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