Ear: Quake

If you want a glimpse at what will happen when the Cascadia Subduction Zone finally lets loose that 9.0 megathrust earthquake and tsunami, read “Off the Richter Scale: Can the Pacific Northwest prepare for the cataclysmic quake that’s coming?” by Michael J. Totten for City Journal (bit.ly/cszboom).

Actually, a 9.0 megathrust quake is so intense it literally is “off the Richter scale.” Wet soil liquifies, brick and masonry buildings crumble, underground infrastructure is crushed, cities like Portland wind up full of shattered glass and rubble, and aftershocks could go on for decades. As for bridges, most will be destroyed or so damaged they can’t be fixed.

The writer speculates that the ideal time (if you could call it that) for this cataclysm would be after Labor Day, at 4 a.m., before schools and businesses are open, and most people are not on the road. That’s a pretty narrow window.

The good news? Wood frame houses, like many in Astoria, fare better than brick buildings, and actually do better in a megathrust situation than in regular earthquakes.

The stuff of nightmares, yes. But the article is probably something every North Coaster should read, anyway.

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Daily Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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