PNW Geologists Learn From Other Earthquakes

 

I would like to applaud geologists for always looking to improve our reporting and forecasting for a 9.0 earthquake.

One thing to note, the state of Oregon re-forecast their tsunami maps after the Japanese earthquake. I assume they took into account how the water flowed in Japan and compared it to the topography along our coastline. For instance, before 2008 the map essentially said the people of Coos Bay would be affected along the beaches (which are a distance from the actual town) and the bay would possibly have a surge similar to the 11-foot tides in the winter months (with 11-foot tides in Coos Bay, the water will reach Highway 101 slightly but not much).

After 2011, the Japanese earthquake showed a more aggressive tsunami and US geologists realized this could happen along our coastline. So they reforecast. Now, a tsunami in Coos Bay can reach all the way out into Libby through the sloughs that feed from the bay. It seems crazy… I would have to drive 15 minutes to get to a beach from the area yet a tsunami will wind its way through various sloughs, tributaries and marshes overflowing into parts of some secluded inland areas. Following the geologist’s logic and looking at the land and understanding the area (my grandparents owned the large ranch in the Libby area where the tsunami inundation zone essentially “ends”) – it makes absolute sense. It’s marshy most of the year even during the summer months. This is conjecture on my part, but the land likely dropped from the 1700 earthquake making it a marsh similar to some parts of Anchorage after 1964. The terrain is similar in texture.

The same goes for a tsunami that might reach Coos Bay’s Blossom Gulch elementary school – which was illustrated in the state’s re-forecast after the Japanese quake. Again, it seems outlandish since you can’t even see water from the grade school but I appreciate the geologists taking into account what happened in Japan and forecasting how that would look along areas such as Coos Bay.  If you live there and understand the lay of the land – it’s logical and makes sense.  I assume it’s the same for other coastal communities.

Thank you to the many subject matter experts and researchers who are working to save lives.

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