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A recap in tweets: Cascadia Earthquake forum draws large crowd and large questions



While you were watching the Grand Ole Party’s debate Thursday evening, almost the entirety of room 156 in Straub Hall was filled by 7 p.m. It seats 520 people.

State and city representatives, professors and the University of Oregon community alike gathered to hear about the “Really Big One” from some of the people who know it the best.

The forum included three main sessions: the cause of an overdue 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the potential effects and the ways people can be prepared if one strikes in the next 50 years. Afterward, there was a Q&A session for the public to quiz a panel of experts on their seismic wonderings.

Professors in the UO Department of Geological Sciences started to plan for the event about a week after The New Yorker released an article with a detailed account of the disasters that would result from a monster quake on the Cascadia subduction zone (a fault line which runs from Washington down to northern California.)

Douglas Toomey and Rebecca Dorsey, both professors in the department, wanted the event to inform the public on what they should and shouldn’t worry about.

Dorsey, the department head, said that there was a lot of concern and confusion surrounding a potential quake. “My favorite myth surrounding the Cascadia earthquake is that a tidal wave could somehow cross the coastal mountains and pour into the Willamette Valley. It’s a big deal when an earth scientist says this, but that’s physically impossible,” Dorsey said.

The event, which featured a surprise visit from Congressman Peter DeFazio, was also streamed online from the UO Channel page. Other highlights included a session lead by Chris Goldfinger, a professor at Oregon State University who showed a clip of an earthquake he experienced. In 2011. In Japan. At a conference about earthquakes.

Toomey, who’s been working on implementing an early warning system for earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, went over the nuts and bolts of the quake, including this helpful tidbit:

After some puns and uncomfortable realities, Josh Bruce, who works with the Oregon Partnership for Disaster Resilience, talked about how to prepare practically, and reassured some worries.

Digital copies of the slides from sessions will be uploaded to the event’s website, along with questions that went unanswered from the Q&A session, which carried on long after the event’s ending time of 9 p.m.

You can view the Emerald’s liveblog of the event here.

Follow Dahlia Bazzaz on Twitter: @dahliabazzaz.


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Dahlia Bazzaz

Dahlia Bazzaz

Dahlia is the 2015-2016 Editor in Chief of the Emerald. Before becoming EIC, she worked as a crime reporter and columnist. She has also interned with Oregon Public Broadcasting.

When she's not in the Emerald newsroom, she enjoys listening to podcasts and figuring out ways to meet Amy Poehler.

You can contact Dahlia via email: [email protected]