Sunday, July 13, 2014
Coming Catastrophic Earthquake in Portland , Oregon-- Be Prepared.
Preparing for the Coming Catastrophic Earthquake in Portland , Oregon Oregon is Subject to Some of the Worst Earthquake Event that Are Possible on Earth. the Risks Should Not Be Downplayed. Preparation is Inadequate Lex Loeb Contributor Network . Geologists say it is not a mater of if but of when. An inevitable high magnitude quake that is potentially catastrophic is coming to Oregon. It may happen as often as once every 300 years. Understanding the geology below the the foundations of the city of Portland and areas in proximity is one of the most important ways of becoming prepared. Some building types are more susceptible than others to destruction but that depends on the magnitude of the force of the quake the way buildings are constructed and their location and siting in the natural geological landscape. It is not only buildings that risk catastrophic destruction. In historic quakes including the recent Kobe quake, the 1924 Tokyo quake and 1964 Anchorage quakes one sees the destruction of lines of transportation, communication, up rooting of forests, destruction of ports and other undesired conditions such as populations being exposed to the weather and disease. Oregon could be hit by a catastrophic quake in the rainy season or in the dead of winter either way could cause even more suffering. Discoveries of sunken forests along the Oregon and Washington Coast lines and a connection to a major Tsunami that devastated parts of coastal Japan , an ocean away, give new cause for alarm if you are a resident of Western Oregon , Washington, Northern California and British Columbia. There is a repetitive history of killer quakes. These earth quakes occur along the North West Coast subduction line , about 100 miles -200 miles off the coast to points or along a line inland to the east. Evidence from Tsunami sand stratification sediments suggest that occur about once every 300 years and can reach the magnitude of 9.0 plus on the Richter scale. You can google information on the general subject of major subduction quakes in the pacific northwest. It is not my intention to provide all the detailed scientific information but rather to highlight some of geological local phenomena that clearly have been effected in the past. Local geologist are warning that in a 7,0 plus quake can cause much of Portland to end up in the river. They are not speaking poetically but with evidence of major local Portland area landslides that not only affect the course of the river but may have put features in the river that include Ross Island. Yes, Ross Island sits immediately below the Big slide zone up which OHSU hospitals now find their foundations planted. This slide from the 1000 plus foot tall hills over looking the river not only hit the river but crossed it probably blocking it at the time of the slide. It is not known if one of the big quakes triggered this particular land slide but having seen this happen frequently in recent quakes in Pakistan and China it is clearly possible if not likely that a major earth quake will set many local landslides into motion the worst of which have the potential to block the Willamette river after crossing it. Other slopes in the Portland Area are also dangerously susceptible. The problem with the west hills is that during the ice age as much as 50 ft of silt blew up the mountain in the wind settling to a depth of as much as 50 ft on the west hills overlaying the more ancient rock base below. Eventually this silt turned to the orangish clay seen under the soil on much of the west hills. The problem with it is it becomes unstable when it becomes saturated with water and or if hit by violent shaking. An earthquake can loosen wet or dry clay and put it in motion causing building foundations to fail and trees to topple. See the photos of the Alaska Anchorage quake of 1964 where the permafrost caused a relatively flat surface to become a complete jumble with houses and trees thrown in all directions. Liquefaction might be worse in fill areas along the river or in flat lands around the city. One can imagine the aftermath of a major quake with homes sliding down the slopes of the west hills between the skyscrapers and into the river. A major subduction zone earthquake can last up to ten minutes. When it comes many will be terrified . Depending on the magnitude of the quake it might be difficult just to stand up. It is hard to imagine the potential destruction unless you look at the pictures of what happened elsewhere in the world with major quakes. Recent quakes in Pakistan, Indonesia , China and Turkey should scare the life out of people in Oregon who might wrongly assume that only San Francisco and California is prone to serious earthquake activity. Oregon's coast line , almost as an entire unit is now considered to be as at risk as the area in Indonesia that became the epicenter for a worldwide Tsunami that killed over 200,000 from Ceylon to Somalia. Believe it or not a Tsunami as high as 1000 ft tall is possible on the Oregon Coast. It would be a bit hard to outrun such a thing. If a Tsunami even just 50 ft hight hit the Oregon coast it would inundate some areas as far as as several miles inland especially where there are actual low lands at the coast. If a tsunami hit the mouth of the Columbia off of Astoria not only would much of Astoria disappear in the undertow but the Columbia River itself would experience the equivalent of a storm surge that would temporarily cause water a great distance inland to back up . Portland , itself is still in the tidal affected zone of the Columbia River, much of it under 50 ft in elevation. Flooding could actually occur even further east up river. Dangers of flooding also come from up stream particularly in the Columbia and rivers that flow into it because landslides anywhere along a river can instantly displace water causing it to stack up on lower elevation water causing a flood wave to come down the river. It should also be noted that such a wave would have the ability to scour the river basin and banks. Further up river are the major Columbia River dams including the Bonneville Dam. This dam has already started to subside according to satellite measurements. At the time it was built in the 1930s engineers and geologists were not aware of the tendency of Oregon to experience major catastrophic quakes. The dam is designed to resist huge forces because water in the reservoir already puts a massive demand of resistance on the dam. Because Bonneville and the other dams are so far east from the likely coastal epicenter expected for a major subduction zone quake, these dams are not likely to be compromised by the quake. Their problem is that they create huge reservoirs up stream of each dam. These reservoirs are an accident waiting to happen because, especially in the gorge there is the dangerous susceptibility of mountains to slide , collapse or even blow up into the river when hit by a quake displacing huge quantities of water instantly. Water has no where to go but down hill. A large land slide into the Columbia river above a dam could cause so much water to be displaced that the whole riverbed would be scoured out to a depth of over 100 ft all the way down to the mouth of the River at Astoria. A wall of water could come down river just from Bonneville over the dam wiping clean all the habitable areas up to a few hundred feet above the river's seasonal level. It could mean much of downtown Portland being flooded and the levees protecting the Portland airport being breached by the water. Through out the Columbia gorge huge rocks that have fallen off the cliff faces look to be ledges that fell off within the last 300 years and they maybe yet another hazard in the gorge. Rocks so big could fall off cliff sides that houses might bounce a few hundred feet high when they came smashing down. Rock and mud slide zones are noted much of the length of the Columbia River gorge. In the recent Chinese quake and the Pakistani quakes mountainous area rivers became dangerous accidents waiting to happen when blocked because temporary lakes of water will form behind them ultimately leading to a collapse of a temporary dam. Anything that happens up river of Portland is cause for concern because the path of least resistance is to follow the river flow lines into the urban lands of the City of Portland. If the gorge gets blocked communications and train service to the east is blocked off if the airport is inundated with water or washed away the city is really cut off. Chances are interstate 5 will be blocked from more than one over pass falling down the way they were seen to do in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Kobe quakes. This leads to martial law conditions in the city. The real story about what happened in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina was marital law of the worst kind where not even the police could be trusted. Survival specialists all warn about the political and social implications as these are often overlooked in disaster planning. Looters come out seeing opportunities after a catastrophic event and police may get gun crazy or just be reacting to looters picking up guns. Those hoping to save their own properties are shut out or risk being targeted by police. This sort of confusion seems to happen every time . The Japanese in the great Tokyo quake of 1924 and in the aftermath of the more recent devastating Kobe quake were better behaved than American can be expected to behave. There were no photographs taken of New Orleans style martial law in Kobe or 1924 Tokyo and that is probably because if you drop a wallet full of cash in Tokyo as opposed to Oregon someone is likely to give it back to you in intact form and not steel the contents. American social extremes are exaggerated after a catastrophic event unfortunately. How do you prepare for a major catastrophic quake? Start by looking at pictures of what happened in the past and in past catastrophic quakes. Lessons from the recent quake in China is that entire sides of mountains can blow up. yes blow up. Video was taken at a panda breeding park where some of the animals died when the whole side of the mountain let loose and was seen to be exploding. That happened to be the central epicenter of the quake so it might be more unlikely for the Portland Area. Another worry is that other geological phenomena are influenced by these quakes on both sides of the gorge huge lava flows like the Skamania county flow and the Parkdale lava beds near hood river may have been spawned by a major subduction quake. There is even a possibility that some of the volcanic hills in Poland could re-activate after ten minutes of severe shaking. It is hard to imagine mt Tabor coming back to volcanic life , the odds are very low, but the geological evidence does seem pretty recent as these are not very ancient volcano's. They might just temporarily come back to life for a short period of time with faults and vent underneath reopened? Other dangers such as fire exist in any quake, industrial plants are wrecked and gas lines are broken, sparks fly as rocks grate against each other. Forests trees, homes and much of the local vegetation could go up in smoke in the Portland Area and though out Oregon as the aftermath of a major quake. Portland has so many old wooden houses and so many forested areas it is an accident waiting to happen. Kobe mostly burned to the ground. The recent Chinese quake taught us that high rise building, the taller the better. A skyline on a peninsula designed to mimic Manhattan's skyline came out of the quake intact but schools far from the epicenter collapsed some killing far too many children. School building in Oregon have been the last thing to be retrofit for earth quakes because teacher union salaries come first. The fire stations in the Portland area were mostly upgraded for seismic resistance but the aging schools some not very well reinforced masonry buildings are sitting as a major accident waiting to happen just like in China. Society has its priorities which is to feed the union that puts a gun to tax payers heads first so I guess it will serve people right who voted for our rotten politicians when disastrous consequences materialize. The money was there but other priorities came first. Earthquake preparedness program by the state of Oregon and city of Portland probably will prove to be a joke because disasters do not following the planning advice of bureaucrats that is why we call them disasters. One just has to pray that the police are not going to join the looters the way they did in New Orleans and that Hospitals will not be collapsing on pill hill and elsewhere as a result of the quake and that the water supply is not cut off so that the fire department can find water to put out fires that might spread to destroy much of the city that does survive the initial quake. Portland has not invested much in alternative power resources for emergency services and very little on having remote pumps to be sure there is water to put out fires. Communication might be down , martial law might be a state of confusion things just go from bad to worse. Being prepared is knowing that what makes it bad is you can't predict all of the initial events and their consequences. It is also difficult to imagine how people will act or if government officials will work to clear people out of the area instead of allowing them to protect their private property. Evidence surfaced from the great San Francisco quake of 1906 that the reason much of the city burned to the ground is that the soldiers flushed everyone out of the urban core, shooting dead people just trying to protect their homes and buildings from fire. It was the same fiasco repeating it self in Post New Orleans Katrina. There were reports of people being tied up and shot or hung from lamp post sometimes by the police. In the San Francisco quake the federal government preempted authority from the locals so you end up with unexpected political decisions . Worse might be endless rain and people out in the weather getting sick from exposure and much of the west coast in a similar condition of catastrophic destruction so it might take days for ships to come in with help or for anyone by land or air from the east to get in though mountain passes that might all be jammed shut by rock and land slides. Being prepared is having enough food to share with some of your neighbors who might not be so lucky as you are to have any and having an emergency kit including an emergency radio, matches, first aid kit and maybe if bad enough camping habitation supplies. Another thing to note is be skeptical of FEMA from the beginning. FEMA is likely to panic just the way it did with Katrina. It may have become a bit better than it was but it's bureucrats will probably be unable to cope better than anyone else and their master planning is likely to prove just as stupid as how they set about dealing with Katrina. There was plenty of warning for FEMA that New Orleans with a category five hurricane was an accident waiting to happen just the way Portland and Oregon are for a major quake. .