Although a terrifying read, the New Yorker piece shouldn't surprise Seattle Times readers. Science reporter Sandi Doughton wrote the book on the "really big one." Literally.
Editor’s note: We hosted an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit on Tuesday to answer questions about quake science and preparedness. Read the transcript on Reddit. Participants: John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network; Debbie Goetz, of Seattle Office of Emergency Management; and Sandi Doughton, science writer at The Seattle Times and author of “Full Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest.”
“The Really Big One,” a story published this week on The New Yorker’s website and in the July 20 print issue, portends a massive earthquake crippling the Pacific Northwest.
It leaves little to the imagination about the consequences of “a full-margin rupture”:
“By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. … FEMA projects that nearly thirteen thousand people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Another twenty-seven thousand will be injured, and the agency expects that it will need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million.”
Although a terrifying read, the New Yorker piece shouldn’t surprise Seattle Times readers. Science reporter Sandi Doughton wrote the book on the “really big one.” Literally. Her 2013 release, “Full Rip 9.0,” describes the eventuality of a mega-quake in jarring detail. It also explains the science behind the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
Here’s the first chapter of Doughton’s book, excerpted in Pacific NW Magazine.
More of Doughton’s earthquake and tsunami reporting:
- A Grays Harbor County school built the first vertical tsunami refuge in the U.S. — with a gym strong enough so 1,000 people could stand on its roof through a tsunami surge.
- Doughton traveled to Japan to report on seafloor-monitoring technology that allows Japanese scientists to monitor the Nankai Trough, a submarine fault so similar to the Cascadia Subduction Zone it’s considered a “sister.”
- When the “really big one” hits, Seattle’s bluffs and slopes are expected to slide, too. A University of Washington study found a big earthquake could could trigger as many as 30,000 landslides in Seattle.
- Some subduction zones may give scientists warning before they slip and shake, making some earthquakes predictable.
- Scientists and technology companies are trying to develop earthquake-alert technology for the Pacific Northwest.
- Research shows the Cascadia fault is so slippery, tidal forces produced by the sun and moon might be able to trigger earthquake tremors.
- Experts say it’s possible 100-foot waves could slam the Pacific Northwest if the Cascadia fault snaps.
- Monster earthquakes might come in succession.
- Scientists have learned a lot since the Nisqually earthquake in 2001, and it’s mostly bad news.