We can't prevent earthquakes from happening, at least at this point in our scientific development. 

What we can do is provide some warning before the full force of an earthquake hits.  Notice the vagueness of the term "some". 

Several earthquake early warning systems are in development and early use on the West Coast, but their approaches and results differ.  How much of a warning is possible?  We put that question to Sarah Minson, a research geophysicist for the U.S. Geological Survey at its Earthquake Science Center in the Bay Area. 

NOAA/Public Domain

The Klamath Basin is no stranger to earthquakes.  A big one in 1993 damaged several buildings, including the county courthouse, which had to be replaced. 

Klamath Falls natives Steve Eberlein and Lydia Ledgerwood-Eberlein were living in Sri Lanka when a tsunami from the Indian Ocean quake of 2004 devastated the island.  They started a business, Tipping Point Resilience, to help people and organizations get ready for earthquakes like the Big One expected from the Cascadia Subduction Zone. 

Mark Lincoln/Wikimedia

The month when all the kids are back in school seems like a good month to learn some new lessons.  So September is National Preparedness Month, a chance for people young and old to spend some time thinking about how to survive a major disaster. 

The Cascadia Subduction Zone keeps the possibility of a major earthquake in the region on the radar; such a quake could disrupt communications and travel for weeks.  So the Oregon Emergency Management department is shifting focus from a 72-hour emergency kit to a "2 Weeks Ready" campaign. 

Mark Lincoln/Wikimedia

By now, most of us are familiar with the basic mechanics of earthquakes: there are cracks in the earth's crust, and movement along those cracks or faults makes for quakes. 

Scientists expect a major earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and it may give a warning.  Research shows swarms of small quakes may act as harbingers of much bigger seismic events. 

U.S. Army/Public Domain

The White House proposal for the next federal budget is out. 

Like the previous one, it proposes to cut all funding for the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system.  But Congress keeps funding in the spending plan that passed recently.

Mark Lincoln/Wikimedia

Bit by bit, emergency service providers and families in the region prepare for what could be a very big earthquake: a movement along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. 

Other parts of the country do not have the localized risk we face.  But they do have something we don't: a major increase in seismic activity in recent years. 

The more frequent quakes appear to be "induced" quakes, caused by human activities like wastewater injection at petroleum sites.  U.S. Geological Survey spends money and staff time investigating the increase. 

Public Domain/Wikimedia

Volcanoes not only erupt and spew objects into the air; they also move the ground.  Quite a bit, in some cases. 

So there's often some shaking with the baking.  Those are approximately the words of seismologist Stephen McNutt. 

He delivers the first of this year's geology lectures at Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay, explaining how seismologists study volcanoes. 

National Park Service

Once upon a time, we thought earthquakes only happened in San Francisco and Alaska.  You know, not here. 

But the discovery of the Cascadia Subduction Zone removed our sense of the solid earth, and the occasional rumbles in the region remind us that a very big earthquake is possible. 

Perhaps even MORE possible in these days when we put powerful forces into the ground to release gas and oil. 

Kathryn Miles tells the story of tremors natural and man-made in her book Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake

U.S. Army/Public Domain

The ground shook in Alaska in March 1964.  And shook and shook and shook. 

When the earthquake was over, it measured higher in magnitude than any other quake in North American history, more than 130 people were dead, and the resulting tsunami wiped out downtown Crescent City. 

Science journalist Henry Fountain pulls many details together for his book The Great Quake: How the Biggest Earthquake in North America Changed Our Understanding of the Planet.

All three West Coast states are now hooked up to the ShakeAlert system, set up to provide some warning of seismic activity. 

California, Oregon, and Washington can all receive real-time warnings from a network of sensors monitoring the Earth for movement. 

There is much more left to do, both in placing sensors and in further developing the program. 

The Beauty Of Earth That Moves

Feb 8, 2017
Darin Ransom | JPR Director of Engineering

We can be wary of the earthquake potential of the Cascadia Subduction Zone and still appreciate what it's done for the landscape. 

The meeting of tectonic plates far beneath us makes our part of the world quake-prone, but beautiful, too. 

Mountains and other dramatic landforms are the products of the earth moving; Robert Lillie demonstrates in his book Beauty from the Beast: Plate Tectonics and the Landscapes of the Pacific Northwest

Lillie taught geosciences at Oregon State and led ranger tours on geology. 

What Moves The Ground Beneath Us

Jan 24, 2017
Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup

Check out the web page of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and click on the markers for recent earthquakes.

You'll be surprised to see that they happen all the time... it's just that few of them are strong enough for us to feel. 

The Cascadia Subduction Zone in which we live poses a constant threat of big earthquakes, and other features can also contribute to powerful Earth movements. 

Seismic Network president John Vidale lectures this week at Southwestern Oregon Community College on temblors in the Northwest. 

Oregon Produces Tsunami Comic

Oct 27, 2016
OEM/Dark Horse Comics

The person in charge of keeping Oregon informed of earthquake hazards has a side job writing comic books. 

Check that; writing comic books is PART of her job. 

Althea Rizzo is the author of a comic story on how Oregonians can prepare for, and survive, a tsunami. 

This is the second comic book collaboration between Oregon's emergency management agency and Dark Horse Comics, based in Milwaukie. 

Research: Cascadia Quake Could Hit Sooner Than We Thought

Aug 8, 2016
Cassandra Profita/EarthFix

A new analysis by researchers in Oregon, Spain and British Columbia, Canada, suggests that massive earthquakes on northern sections of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, affecting areas of the Pacific Northwest that are more heavily populated, are somewhat more frequent than has been believed in the past.

Living Around Volcanoes In Cascadia

May 19, 2016
Mt Shasta Avalanche Center

We talk a fair amount about "The Big One," the anticipated Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake that could hit 9.0 or higher in magnitude.  But it's not the only movement of the Earth we need to be aware of: we have volcanoes nearby as well. 

Mount St. Helens blew its top more than 35 years ago, but other peaks in the Cascades could come to life as well. 

That is the focus of Seth Moran, who directs the Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, WA. 

Mapping Where The Earth Tends To Slide

Mar 9, 2016

Don't get excited by the term "SLIDO," it is NOT one of those little hamburgers (that's a slider). 

SLIDO is the Statewide Landslide Information Layer for Oregon, and a pretty good acronym for a program that keeps track of landslides. 

The rains of this winter showed us what can happen when the earth slides--like on several Douglas County roads--and the SLIDO maps show where slides can happen and have. 

The state Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) runs the SLIDO program. 

Earthquake? There's An App For That

Feb 17, 2016
UC-Berkeley Seismological Laboratory

When you think of all the things smartphones can do now, why NOT make an app that can alert you to an earthquake?

That's what the brains have been testing at the seismological lab at the University of California-Berkeley; an app called MyShake.

In its current configuration the app gives smartphone users confirmation of quakes, using some of the technology used in making today's games. 

The eventual plan for the app is to have it function as a warning system.

When Evolution Speeds Up

Jan 7, 2016
University of Oregon

You can't sit in one place and watch evolution happen.  But you might be able to come back after a while and see the evidence of it. 

And in a remarkably short time, it turns out. 

Scientists at the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon discovered that the huge Alaska earthquake of 1964--the one that caused the Crescent City tsunami--forced sudden changes in a species of fish. 

Oregon Takes Earthquake Prep On The Road

Sep 16, 2015
Mark Lincoln/Wikimedia

Emergency managers have to walk a fine line between making people aware of earthquake dangers in the region... and scaring them. 

But the threat is real, considering our part of the world sits atop the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the site of large earthquakes every few hundreds years. 

And it's been more than 300 since the last one.  Oregon Emergency Management's Althea Rizzo is the Geologic Hazards Coordinator for the department. 

And she's in the middle of a "road show" (September 14-21) bringing earthquake and preparation details to the southern part of Oregon. 

Relief Efforts From The U.S. To Nepal

Apr 28, 2015

The death toll from the earthquake in Nepal continues to climb by the hour. 

And the search for dead and survivors is accompanied by growing efforts to assist the living, many of them displaced by the destruction of their homes. 

American Red Cross and other aid organizations mobilize for such disasters.