Massive Earthquake, Tsunami Drill in the CSZ Slated for June

Cascadia Rising, a readiness drill for a Pacific Northwest earthquake, on the Cascadian Subduction Zone will begin on June 7 and runs through the 10, 2016.  The projected quake on this fault line is in the upwards of magnitude 8.0-9.0, resulting in a tsunami and much loss of life.  The drill will help federal and local agencies work together to hone their skills for such a cataclysmic event.  Twenty-thousand people will be part of the drill, from the Pacific Northwest and into Canada.

“This is the largest exercise ever for a Cascadia break,” said Lt. Col. Clayton Braun of the Washington State National Guard. Braun has been a key planner of the doomsday drill, which is being overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

More than 8 million people live in the area that is vulnerable to the Cascadia Subduction Zone. It contains the most heavily populated areas of the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle and Portland, as well as Interstate 5, one of the nation’s busiest roads.

Coastal towns are especially at risk. Studies have forecast that while 1,100 people could die from a 9.0 magnitude quake, 13,500 could perish from the tsunami that would slam into the coast within 15 to 30 minutes after the shaking begins.

The last time the CSZ had a substantial quake was in the 1700s and this fault is slated for an enormous temblor every 200-500 years.  Though the San Andres gets all the limelight, this fault zone is as equally threatening.

Awareness of the seismic threat looming just off the Pacific Northwest dates back to the 1980s, when researchers concluded that coastal lands long ago had been inundated by a tsunami. Research also indicated that a tsunami that was documented in Japan in January 1700 originated from the Cascadia Subduction Zone, also known as the CSZ.

Research suggests that the CSZ on average produces magnitude 9.0 quakes every 500 years, but big quakes have been separated by as few as 200 years and as many as 1,000. So it is impossible to predict when the next monster quake occurs. However, tectonic stresses have been accumulating in the CSZ for more than 300 years and seismologists say it could rupture at any time.

From Washinton to Oregon, preparations for a 9.0 quake are being made and Cascadia Rising is part of that preparation. One drill will rehearse logistics in Port Tacoma  and the delivery of supplies, another drill will pull bodies out of the rubble, and ham-radio operators will be important if phone and internet service are disconnected. “Ham operators have the ability to act as the eyes, ears and messengers for emergency officials scrambling to figure out what they need to do to save lives and prevent more damage.”

Source: Seattle Times



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