The recent 3.3 magnitude Portland earthquake rattled residents and geologists fear that a catastrophic earthquake is in Oregon's near future. According to a recent study, its not a question of if, but when a magnitude 9.0 quake will hit in the 700-mile fault line just off the coast, according to KGW's report on April 6.
The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network reports that the Portland earthquake was approximately 12 miles deep and centered near Sherwood in Washington County.
Although the quake was lightly felt in the Portland metro area, many residents were left unnerved by the event. There were no reports of injury or damage.
The strong 8.2 earthquake that struck in northern Chile on Tuesday, which killed 7 people, is a terrifying example of what could happen if a quake of that magnitude was to hit Oregon.
The massive Chilean earthquake caused severe damage to the region and President Michelle Bachelet has declared multiple areas disaster zones and says they will be allocated emergency recovery funds.
Oregon lies in the Cascadia subduction zone (also referred to as the Cascadia fault), a type of convergent plate boundary that stretches from northern Vancouver Island to northern California. It is a very long sloping fault that separates the Juan de Fuca and North America plates, Wikipedia writes.
A study conducted last year explained that for more than 300 years, the massive geological fault off America's northwest coast has lain dormant. It wasn't until the 1980s when scientists labeled Oregon's Cascadia subduction zone as an active fault that poses a major geological hazard to the state. Just a few years later, Oregon's building codes were updated to address this newly revealed earthquake threat to the built environment.
Many earthquakes and tsunamis along the Cascadia subduction zone have been recorded, and state and local officials have urged residents in Oregon to prepare for the next one. In 1999, the damage that a Cascadia earthquake and tsunami would have on Oregon was documented in a study and officials say either event would cause catastrophic damage to the area.
Geologists warn that massive earthquakes will strike Oregon in the future, and they fear that the state's infrastructure is inadequately prepared to meet the threat.