Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Notes on ".....everything west of I-5 will be toast"

First - note that ".... everything west of I-5 will be toast" is not the full the quote.

Kathyrn Schulz's article in the New Yorker (newyorker.com/the-really-big-one) managed to do more to get attention about the big subduction quake risk on the Washington (and Oregon and southern BC) coasts than any article. I became aware something was up in our internet age media when a post I put up regarding tsunamis three years ago started getting 200 to 300 page views a day. The fact that it took an article in the New Yorker to create such reaction has to be a bit frustrating to geologists and emergency planners that have tried to raise attention to this risk.

Chris Goldfinger, a geologist heavily relied on for the article put up a post  (the-meaning-of-toast) regarding the "toast" quote in the article that is consistent with my take on the quote. I will only add that it is my experience that emergency planners tend to be way ahead of land use planners when it comes to geologic hazards. One could take the view that land use planners lack of corrective action as geologic hazards become better understood are creating the emergencies that emergency planners are then forced to address.     

Kathyrn Schulz also had an excellent follow up article on the initial article including some maps regarding seismic shaking from the "big full rip" earthquake scenario (how-to-stay-safe-when-the-big-one-comes). The maps that were not part of the initial article perhaps clarifies the risk.

I also heard an interview of Ms. Schulz. She, along with Dr. Goldfinger and numerous geologists I have spoken with as well as myself, has feelings of dread whenever visiting the outer coast of Oregon. The same feeling is present when I have visited the outer coast of Washington. The "big one" will shake the outer coast much more intensely than the I-5 corridor and then will be followed by a very large tsunami. Having visited outer coast tsunami sites it is a hard thing to be in communities that one knows face nearly complete destruction. Those places face hard planning both for land use and emergencies.  

1 comment:

Lockwood said...

A friend's response to that "toast" quote was, "Our house is two blocks east of I-5, so we'll be fine." I totally cracked up! (He's a very smart guy, and was definitely being sarcastic/sardonic.)