As quakes shake globe, what about High Desert?

Could Oregonbe next? Experts urge being ready -- just in case

How earthquakes effect Central Oregon

BEND, Ore. - First, Southern California shook with a magnitude 5.1 earthquake. Then, an even bigger one off the coast of Chile -- this one at a terrifying 8.2 magnitude. That's shaking up the question here in Central Oregon: Could we be next?

"You know, earthquakes are a top-level hazard in the state of Oregon," Laurie VanLeuven of Oregon Department of Emergency Management said Wednesday.

Similar to California and Chile, Oregon lies on the "Ring of Fire," an area with high volcanic and seismic activity. Multiple fault lines hide beneath the High Desert as well.
"We have several local crustal faults that will give you California-style earthquakes here in the Bend area." said Althea Rizzo, geologic hazards program coordinator for Oregon Emergency Management.

Fortunately for us, the recent earthquakes cannot trigger shaking here. That's not to say it won't happen, though.

"We're always due for one," Rizzo said.

The idea that we could "due for one" after a certain amount of time doesn't apply to earthquakes the same way as other natural phenomena. There is no specific season for quakes, like there is for hurricanes or tornadoes.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a large fault right off the Oregon coast. The last quake it caused was in 1700, figured at a whopping 9.0 magnitude quake or higher.

"Yeah, that's a very, very large earthquake," Rizzo said.    

It's a scary thought that could become a reality during our lifetime.

"There's a 37 percent chance in the next 50 years," Rizzo said.

That means that this fault could shift within our lifetime -- or during our children's lifetime. So Oregon Emergency Management wants you to be prepared.

"Make sure you take care of everything that you can," VanLeuven said.

"Depending on where you are in Oregon when Cascadia happens, you could be on your own for about three weeks," Rizzo said.

That's a long time -- which means now is a good time to make a family plan. Because while you can't control natural disasters, there are some things you can control.

"You can control how you prepare for it," Rizzo said.

One piece of information for a little peace of mind is that earthquakes cannot trigger volcanic activity in dormant volcanoes.

One site that offers help to set up an emergency kit can be found here, at the state Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

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