Oregon marks 315 years without a megathrust earthquake

EUGENE, Ore. - The most recent megathrust earthquake along the Cascadia subduction zone shook the Northwest 315 years ago Monday.

The quake hit in 1700, long before the United States formed and had started colonize the Pacific Northwest.

Japanese records of a tsunami helped pinpoint January 26 as the anniversary of the last major quake.

The quake hit with an estimated 8.7 to 9.2 magnitude.

And it's the kind of quake we can expect to see again.

Just when, no one can say.

Scientific evidence suggests that at least 13 other earthquakes have occurred along the Cascadia subduction zone over the past 2,500 years, with intervals of about 300 to 900 years between each event.

"Oregonians are more prepared today than they have been in the past," said Dr. Scott Burns. "But we are far from ready for the effects of shaking, landslides, liquefaction and tsunamis that are sure to occur in the event the Cascadia subduction zone shifts."

While scientists can't predict the precise time and date of the region's next large earthquake, the Red Cross urges the public to take precautionary steps to prepare for an emergency.

The Red Cross recommends people take the following steps to prepare for an earthquake:

  • Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.
  • Practice "drop, cover and hold on" in each safe place. If you do not have sturdy furniture to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  • Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person's bed in case the earthquake strikes in the middle of the night.
  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
  • Bolt bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs.
  • Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sleep or sit.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
  • Keep and maintain an emergency supply kit in an easy-to-access location.
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