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Unprepared in the Cascadia Subduction Zone

10.07.15

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Unprepared in the Cascadia Subduction Zone

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This season Oregon Field Guide started off with a special feature on Oregon's history with large magnitude earthquakes in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, otherwise known as the Pacific Ocean coastline running from Vancouver Island to Northern California. Oregon Public Broadcasting has spent the past year gleaning lessons from the 9.0-magnitude Tohoko quake that rocked Japan in 2011, and they investigated what a similarly sized earthquake would do to Oregon. It's a timely question given that the fault line along the subduction zone is past due for a quake with a magnitude of 8.0 or greater, and seismologists studying the area say the chances of such an event happening in the next 50 years are 30% or greater.

The special episode, which you can watch here, focuses on the communities of Gold Beach and Seaside, two areas that stand to be decimated if (or perhaps "when") an earthquake and subsequent tsunami happen. Lewis and Clark noted the lingering impacts from the last large earthquake in the region when they first arrived at this very coastline. Much of the show also focuses on how a massive quake would impact Portland, especially the fuel distribution facilities along the Willamette River between downtown and the St. Johns Bridge. It turns out our infrastructure and preparedness plans have yet to truly take into account what a large magnitude earthquake would mean for this area and all who inhabit it.

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Published in collaboration with Oregon Field Guide

Oregon Field Guide is OPB's long-running local weekly TV series. The program covers natural resources, ecological issues, outdoor recreation and travel destinations across the Northwest region. This award-winning show is one of the most-watched local productions in the public broadcasting system.

Oregon Field Guide also extends the work it does in the field for the television series across radio and the Web, providing a greater degree of coverage.

Oregon Field Guide airs Thursday evenings at 8:30 p.m. and repeats Sundays at 1:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. In the Mountain Time zone of Eastern Oregon, the program airs at 9:30 p.m. Thursdays, and at 7:30 p.m. Sundays.

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