Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

West Coast tsunami warnings shouldn’t lull Oregonians to sleep, expert says

Date:
March 11, 2011
Source:
Oregon State University
Summary:
The massive earthquake that rocked Japan on March 11 and generated a tsunami that inundated coastal cities at that island nation triggered alerts around the world. The Oregon coast was no exception.

The massive earthquake that rocked Japan on March 11 and generated a tsunami that inundated coastal cities at that island nation triggered alerts around the world. The Oregon coast was no exception.

Some Oregon coastal residents received reverse-911 calls. Others were alerted by police officers with bullhorns. Many watched events unfold on television. For the most part, says one expert, things went smoothly. But when a major subduction zone earthquake hits the Pacific Northwest, he added, we won't have the luxury of many hours of warning.

"All that you have to do is look at the footage from Japan and realize that is exactly what could happen here," said Patrick Corcoran, an Oregon State University education and outreach specialist who has been working with coastal communities for several years on earthquake and tsunami preparation.

"We may have 15 to 30 minutes between the time an earthquake hits and a tsunami arrives, so Oregonians shouldn't be lulled into a false sense of security," Corcoran pointed out. "What happened in Japan, in Chile, in Banda Aceh -- it will happen here. And it will be our turn to be in the bad place."

Corcoran works in Seaside on the northern Oregon coast where he said people were both "compliant and a bit confused" about the tsunami warnings. A few people went to emergency shelters, he said, and some 40 cars were parked at one evacuation site.

He said everyone living on the West Coast needs to expect the possibility of this type of event happening in our lifetime -- and to think specifically about what to do when an earthquake hits. The warning, he said, will be the earthquake itself.

"You need to drop and cover during the quake itself, and then immediately head to higher ground," Corcoran said. "Everyone needs to know specifically where to go -- whether you are at home, at work, out shopping or at your favorite bar. The general rule is to get to at least 50 feet elevation -- and 100 feet if you can.

"Families need to have plans -- for the parents and the kids -- and have those conversations today," he emphasized. "If the kids are at school and the parents are miles away, you have to trust that they will know what to do, or be told by their teachers to do the right thing, because you don't want parents crossing the inundation zone trying to reach their children. You have to have the discipline to stay put if you are safe -- and that discipline begins with being confident that all your family members know what to do in an emergency."

Scientists say there is more than a one-in-three chance that a major subduction zone earthquake will hit the Pacific Northwest in the next 50 years.

New analyses by OSU marine geologist Chris Goldfinger and his colleagues have provided fresh insights into the Northwest's turbulent seismic history -- where magnitude 8.2 (or higher) earthquakes have occurred 41 times during the past 10,000 years.

The damage from such a quake could be catastrophic. Corcoran said Northwest residents need to understand that massive, widespread damage will make personal attention by emergency managers unlikely.

"People need to take personal responsibility for preparing themselves and their families for this inevitable event," Corcoran said. "Prepared people not only help themselves, they can help their neighbors, too."

Robert Yeats, a professor emeritus of geology at OSU, agrees that Oregon is in better shape now than in 2005, when one of the last major tsunami warnings took place.

"Then you had a bunch of people running down to the beach to take pictures, acting like idiots," Yeats said. "It was sort of a fiasco. Oregon coastal communities seem to be better prepared now, even though there's still work to do. Our building codes for new structures are much better than they used to be.

"Right now, Oregon is probably a leader in tsunami preparedness on the West Coast -- although that still doesn't compare to the level of work they've done in Japan," Yeats added.

More information on tsunami preparedness is available through Oregon Sea Grant -- a marine education and outreach program based at OSU. (http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/breakingwaves/)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Oregon State University. "West Coast tsunami warnings shouldn’t lull Oregonians to sleep, expert says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110311165855.htm>.
Oregon State University. (2011, March 11). West Coast tsunami warnings shouldn’t lull Oregonians to sleep, expert says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110311165855.htm
Oregon State University. "West Coast tsunami warnings shouldn’t lull Oregonians to sleep, expert says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110311165855.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins