The Imminent, Massive Earthquake That May Soon Devastate the Pacific Northwest


Scientists want you to know this earthquake will happen, but we don't know when. Here is a brief from the initial report from the New Yorker:

The first sign that the Cascadia earthquake has begun will be a compressional wave, radiating outward from the fault line. Compressional waves are fast-moving, high-frequency waves, audible to dogs and certain other animals but experienced by humans only as a sudden jolt. They are not very harmful, but they are potentially very useful, since they travel fast enough to be detected by sensors thirty to ninety seconds ahead of other seismic waves. That is enough time for earthquake early-warning systems, such as those in use throughout Japan, to automatically perform a variety of lifesaving functions: shutting down railways and power plants, opening elevators and firehouse doors, alerting hospitals to halt surgeries, and triggering alarms so that the general public can take cover. The Pacific Northwest has no early-warning system. When the Cascadia earthquake begins, there will be, instead, a cacophony of barking dogs and a long, suspended, what-was-that moment before the surface waves arrive. Surface waves are slower, lower-frequency waves that move the ground both up and down and side to side: the shaking, starting in earnest.

Soon after that shaking begins, the electrical grid will fail, likely everywhere west of the Cascades and possibly well beyond. If it happens at night, the ensuing catastrophe will unfold in darkness. In theory, those who are at home when it hits should be safest; it is easy and relatively inexpensive to seismically safeguard a private dwelling. But, lulled into nonchalance by their seemingly benign environment, most people in the Pacific Northwest have not done so. That nonchalance will shatter instantly. So will everything made of glass. Anything indoors and unsecured will lurch across the floor or come crashing down: bookshelves, lamps, computers, cannisters of flour in the pantry. Refrigerators will walk out of kitchens, unplugging themselves and toppling over. Water heaters will fall and smash interior gas lines. Houses that are not bolted to their foundations will slide off—or, rather, they will stay put, obeying inertia, while the foundations, together with the rest of the Northwest, jolt westward. Unmoored on the undulating ground, the homes will begin to collapse.

Across the region, other, larger structures will also start to fail. Until 1974, the state of Oregon had no seismic code, and few places in the Pacific Northwest had one appropriate to a magnitude-9.0 earthquake until 1994. The vast majority of buildings in the region were constructed before then. Ian Madin, who directs the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI), estimates that seventy-five per cent of all structures in the state are not designed to withstand a major Cascadia quake. FEMA calculates that, across the region, something on the order of a million buildings—more than three thousand of them schools—will collapse or be compromised in the earthquake. So will half of all highway bridges, fifteen of the seventeen bridges spanning Portland’s two rivers, and two-thirds of railways and airports; also, one-third of all fire stations, half of all police stations, and two-thirds of all hospitals.

We don't know when or where the earthquake will occur, nor do we know what impact it will have on us. The best thing we can do is learn about potential disasters and create an emergency plan just in case. To learn more about this potential disaster visit New Yorker.

Featured Image via YouTube


  1. Marc Black said:

    Well, its not like we haven’t been warned since the 70’s..

  2. Thomas Whitten said:

    It could happen tomorrow. Or in a hundred thousand years. I can assure you, people will not be ready for it. In preparing for other disasters, only a few will be semi ready for it. Human nature is such that’s it’s hard to fully prepare for something that may or may not happen in one’s own lifetime.

  3. Larry Swope said:

    They’ve been saying this for years. I know this because I live there.

  4. Ron Grable said:

    maybe it will dump california and all its fruits and nuts into the pacific along its governor…baby

  5. Landon Rakes said:

    Better go ahead and let them succeed that way the tax payers don’t have to cover the bill u know since they seem not to care about us fly over states they so desperately wanna leave

  6. Mike Long said:

    no geologist worth their salt will ever say anything like , “the big one will happen soon”. it is impossable to predict an earthquake.

  7. Michael McMahon said:

    if that happens, then maybe California will break off and float away taking the ninth circus court with it. he he.

  8. Chris Nichols said:

    The most premium property, for beauty, springs, and waterways, are places that get the most geological uplift.
    Earthquake safe countrie is boring, flat, hills rounded off from erosion. The poor, on poor real estate, may weather the storm better then the wealthy glammer cast class.

  9. Sean McCallum said:

    Ah, the age-old question. “Juan de Fuca we supposed to have this earthquake??”

  10. Frank Costa said:

    OMG-!! This, and the Fukushima radiation combined sound like the plot for a grade B movie on the late, late show. But it’s not a joke. This is real, and almost too much to imagine. Preppers: how do you prep for this-??

  11. Chris Bell said:

    What’s the worst that can happen, we lose California? Will anyone really miss it?

  12. Daniel Dudley said:

    There has actually been some funding going into initiatives for preparation. For a while there last year there were lots of TV spots and radio infomercials regarding this subject. My wife works in the public sector for a city health dept. She signed up for the domestic preparedness team. They had all kinds of information to give out and SHTF scenarios under discussion. Who would be in which group and hierarchy. After seeing what they had I have to say that people better prepare on their own. No way will the government be able to help you for at least 2 weeks or even months in some cases. The ground essentially turns to quicksand and a HUGE tsunami will hit coming up to a mile inland. Preparedness means jumping in your car with no provisions and driving east as quickly as you can. Or get to high ground if near the ocean.

  13. Gerard Olszewski said:

    These two plates must both be Democrat plates, keep promising to do something year after year and nothing ever really happens…

  14. Katherine Ellingson said:

    It has been “imminent” since I was a child. I’m not saying don’t prepare, but imminent can mean anytime in the next 200 years…

  15. Kenna Morton said:

    Time for you to review your geology, where earthquake faults lye and what partially determines their potential strength.. And, which ones have the capability of grand scale mass destruction. It’s not California, it is the Cascadia Range in the Pacific North West.

  16. Larry Swope said:

    Yes I know, I’ve lived here my whole life. I do know a big one is expected. I’ve been hearing this for 20+ years now.

  17. Robert Pate said:

    If it goes ,I believe it will b because of a nuke bomb,and they will try to pass it off as a quake,to ppl,

  18. Laura Brown said:

    That’s actually a GOOD thing. We don’t want those plates to live up to “their” promise.