A large van was crushed by earthquake debris in a Seattle parking lot in this photo taken March 4, 2001. FEMA News Photo by Kevin Galvin

A large van was crushed by earthquake debris in a Seattle parking lot in this photo taken March 4, 2001. FEMA News Photo by Kevin Galvin

Massive earthquake on Seattle Fault would bring catastrophic tsunami waves

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake could create a tsunami that would flood the Seattle shoreline in over 20 feet of water.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) published a study July 7 detailing tsunami projections in the case of a 7.5 magnitude earthquake along the Seattle Fault.

The Washington Geological Survey division of DNR modeled its projections after the last major earthquake to take place under the Seattle Fault line — a magnitude 7.5 quake that took place about 1,100 years ago.

Models showed that after an earthquake of this magnitude, the resulting tsunami would flood the Seattle shoreline in over 20 feet of water within 3 minutes of the initial quake.

As damaging as an earthquake of this magnitude could be, its consequences pale in comparison to the potential for disaster of another long-dormant fault line: the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ).

The CSZ is approximately 1,000 kilometers long off the West Coast and spans from California to British Columbia.

About every 250 years, Cascadia ruptures, causing a huge earthquake along the West Coast. It has been 322 years since the last 9.0 Cascadia rupture, which occurred in 1700.

In other words, we are overdue for a massive earthquake, or as some refer to it, “The Big One.”

“We’re very far from being prepared. We’re just getting started with retrofitting important buildings like hospitals,” said Dr. Chris Goldfinger, one of the leading experts on the Cascadia Subduction Zone and a current professor at Oregon State University.

Much of the Pacific Northwest is behind the curve in terms of earthquake preparedness infrastructure, he said.

“Our infrastructure isn’t a whole lot better than that of Nepal or Haiti,” said Goldfinger.

There are things people can do to prepare for a disaster. One of the first steps is to build a survival kit.

The American Red Cross has a list on its website of recommended items to include in your survival kit, including a first aid kit, enough water and food to last several days, copies of important documents, a flashlight, portable radio, extra batteries, etc.

Another important step, according to Goldfinger, is to ensure your home is bolted to its foundations. Many old buildings are not bolted to their foundations, but it is a fairly simple and affordable process to fix this problem to help your home withstand an earthquake, he said.

Similarly, it is a good idea to bolt down heavy furniture such as bookshelves and refrigerators so they will not fall over during an earthquake.

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, it is essential to have a plan in place for when “The Big One” hits.

The general procedure outlined for earthquake safety in the U.S. is DCHO, or “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” Goldfinger argues there is very little evidence to back up this strategy as the most effective choice in an earthquake.

Goldfinger recommends a more personalized approach because everyone’s situation in an earthquake will be different depending on their physical surroundings. Some countries, including Israel and Mexico, have already updated their earthquake response training to a situational awareness model.

This model encourages you to make a plan for what you will do and where you will go in both your workplace and your home. Figure out if the building you work in is retrofitted. Think about the options you have according to your own individual circumstances. Find out if you are in a tsunami hazard area, and if so, learn the evacuation routes.

“The best thing you can do,” said Goldfinger, “is to kind of weave that into your consciousness and make decisions accordingly.”

To learn more about the workings of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, visit survivingcascadia.com. To learn more about Goldfinger’s reasoning behind the situational awareness model of earthquake response, visit the link below. https://temblor.net/earthquake-insights/opinion-when-the-next-cascadia-megaquake-strikes-heres-what-ill-do-13866/


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

A Sound Transit fare ambassador checks with a light rail rider. COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit
Fare inspections at Sound Transit Link stations begin June 3

Passengers will need proof of payment within fare paid zones at boarding areas

Jeffrey Nelson at his trial May 16, 2024. (Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times / Pool)
Murder trial begins for Auburn Police officer Jeffrey Nelson

First officer in Washington to face a murder charge following the passage of Initiative 940.

Men serving halal food on Eid Mubarak 2024. Photo By Joshua Solorzano/Federal Way Mirror
Washington state passes Halal Food Consumer Protection Act

Federal Way Muslim activist details how this bill came about and why it is important

t
Head-on collision kills 31-year-old woman in Auburn

The fatal collision occurred May 11 in the area of I Street Northeast in north Auburn.

A screenshot of King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn speaking about a proposed amendment for the proposed $20 minimum wage ordinance. (Screenshot)
King County approves $20.29 minimum wage for unincorporated areas

Councilmember Reagan Dunn and more than a dozen business owners argued tips and health care expenses should be a part of the new wage. The council passed the ordinance without the amendment.

Reyna Hernandez (right) with her mother. Photo Courtesy of Ivonne Carillo-Hernandez
Friends of Renton’s Reyna Hernandez detail her cheerful character

Friends in Renton considered her family and saw some warning signs of abuse prior to her murder.

Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO
Man receives one month jail sentence in fatal Renton hit-and-run

2020 crash killed 16-year-old boy on motorcycle along Interstate 405; mother objects to plea deal

t
Investigators bust drug trafficking operation in King County

Thousands of fentanyl pills reportedly were kept at a Federal Way storage facility.

Phil Fortunato
Auburn’s Phil Fortunato announces secretary of state run

District 31 Republican senator wants to test Washington’s voting registration system for weaknesses.

Food in a foam takeout container. Sound Publishing file photo
Foam coolers, takeout containers will be banned in WA

The prohibition on the sale and distribution of these products will take effect June 1 under a law the Legislature approved in 2021.