It reminds Malone of the debate that raged in the days before Mount St. Helens blew its top on May 18, 1980, devastating more than 150 square miles of forest land around the volcano in southwestern Washington state, spewing ash all the way to Idaho, causing more than $1 billion in damage and killing 57 people.
Earthquake experts say current building codes don’t reflect the riskiest features of the Seattle area’s geology — but the outlook for survivability looks a lot better if the Really Big One can just hold off for a few more years.
That’s the bottom line from a session focusing on Seattle’s seismic hazards, presented at ground zero today during the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting. The session — titled “Is the Coast Toast?” — followed up on a 2015 New Yorker article that painted a grim picture of the possibilities, based on studies of the Pacific Northwest’s Cascadia subduction zone.
Can Seattle Sounders fans match the Seahawks’ “Beast Quakes” when it comes to making the earth move? Seismologists from the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network conducted their first experiment to address that question.
Based on today’s results from the Sounders’ MLS Cup championship match against Toronto at CenturyLink Field, soccer fans are definitely holding their own.
“We’re seeing great signals from the crowd,” Elizabeth Urban, a UW student who’s part of the PNSN team, told GeekWire at halftime.
Those signals were most obvious when Sounders fans started jumping together. “At first I thought it was a train going by, but it was very much lined up with when the fans were jumping,” seismologist Steve Malone, an emeritus research professor at UW, wrote in a PNSN blog posting.
And that was with a scoreless first half. The needle moved even more wildly when the Sounders scored two quick goals in the second half.
“Both goals — particularly the second one — really, really showed up well. Very strongly, all the way from here to our station located several hundred yards away,” Malone told GeekWire. “The second goal seemed to be louder … and lasted longer.”
The tremor that accompanied Seattle’s third goal was almost as strong.
The U.S. Geological Survey is setting aside $10.4 million over the next two years to boost the ShakeAlert earthquake early-warning system in the Pacific Northwest.
About $7.3 million of the funding, which is part of a broader ShakeAlert expansion program announced today, will go to the University of Washington.
Funds will be used to upgrade the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, or PNSN, which monitors earthquake activity in Washington and Oregon.
“This investment in PNSN represents a major increase in federal support for earthquake monitoring in the Cascadia region,” UW seismologist Harold Tobin, the network’s director, said in a news release. “At the end of the two years of funding we anticipate having essentially doubled the number of seismic stations across our whole region that contribute to real-time earthquake early warning.”
Tobin said the network’s expansion “would allow for full public alerts of any potentially damaging earthquakes, across our entire region of Washington and Oregon, by the end of the two-year period.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Is it the tick of Earth’s heartbeat, or a ticking time bomb? Either way, instruments that monitor a 14-month pattern in seismic activity could serve as an super-early warning system for the “Really Big One,” the massive earthquake that’s expected to hit the Pacific Northwest sometime in the next few centuries.
The probe’s robotic arm pulled InSight’s seismometer, known as the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure or SEIS, from the spacecraft’s deck on Dec. 19 and slowly, gingerly set it down on a flat spot directly in front of the lander. The arm stretched out to nearly its maximum reach, 5.367 feet away from the deck.
Deploying SEIS is a major milestone for InSight’s two-year mission to monitor seismic activity and internal heat flow on the Red Planet. (The mission’s name is an acronym that stands for “Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.”)
When it comes to taking earthquakes seriously, Seattle’s problem may be that the city doesn’t get enough of them.
That’s one way of putting the assessment from Lucy Jones, a pioneering seismologist from Southern California who’s been called the “Beyoncé of Earthquakes.”
She earned that title by dint of decades’ worth of research and outreach at Caltech and the U.S. Geological Survey, particularly in her role as a risk reduction planner and the lead developer of the “Great ShakeOut” earthquake preparedness drill.
Since her retirement from USGS in 2016, Jones has been focusing on ramping up her own institute, the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, and writing a soon-to-be-published book titled “The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us.”
This week she came to Seattle to give talks at City Hall and at the University of Washington, recapping her work on Los Angeles’ “Resilience by Design” program.
The University of Washington and six other research institutions will benefit from $4.9 million in funding from the U.S. Geological Survey for the ShakeAlert earthquake warning system, which could eventually provide precious seconds of advance notice that a seismic shock is coming.
The grant funds a fresh set of two-year cooperative agreements with UW as well as Central Washington University, the University of Oregon, Caltech, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Nevada at Reno and the Colorado-based UNAVCO research consortium.
An underwater seismic network pioneered by the University of Washington and other institutions is revealing how thousands of tiny shocks can herald huge eruptions.
Results from the Ocean Observatories Initiative’s Cabled Array, published today by the journal Science and Geophysical Research Letters, focus on the buildup of seismic activity in advance of a 2015 eruption at Axial Seamount, the most active submarine volcano in the northeast Pacific Ocean. The release of the results was timed to coincide with this week’s American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.
“Instruments used by Ocean Observatories Initiative scientists are giving us new opportunities to understand the inner workings of this volcano, and of the mechanisms that trigger volcanic eruptions in many environments,” Rick Murray, director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Ocean Sciences, said in a news release. “The information will help us predict the behavior of active volcanoes around the globe.”