earthquakes | KUOW News and Information

earthquakes

The Washington National Guard -- joined by officers from Oregon and Idaho -- are preparing for a massive military relief effort.

Several days after a devastating earthquake hit Nepal, officials are using helicopters to ferry aid to remote areas — and thousands of people are leaving Kathmandu, where many had sought refuge. Rescue crews are still working to help survivors of the 7.8-magnitude quake.

Reporting from the district of Gorkha, the epicenter of Saturday's tremor, NPR's Julie McCarthy says, "When we arrived last night, you could feel the ground shaking constantly. It felt like Jello, and it lasted through the evening."

Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey are trying to figure out whether smartphones might be used to give earthquake warnings.

People standing above the epicenter of a large earthquake will feel the ground shaking before those on the periphery of the quake. The same can be said of their smartphones.

Ben Brooks with the USGS says if a computer was checking for simultaneous movement of a large number of smartphones, it could give people on the periphery of a quake a 10 or 20 second warning.

That's enough time to stop a surgeon from making a cut, he said.

If you’ve spent any time on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter in recent days, you will likely have noticed special attention given to the massive earthquake in Nepal on Saturday that left more then 5,000 people dead.

That attention goes beyond the phenomenon of global communications. Facebook and Google are making it easier for survivors to be identified, while Apple and PayPal are streamlining the donation process.

Aftershocks following Saturday's magnitude-7.8 quake in Nepal are jangling nerves and complicating rescue operations. So far, there have been more than a dozen quakes of magnitude 5 or higher, and another two dozen between magnitude 4.5 and 5.

Akshar Koirala, 7, of Renton, prays with the Nepali community in Bothell following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Bells rang out at a temple in Bothell on Sunday, where more than a hundred came to pray, light candles and share updates about the massive earthquake in Nepal.

An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 Nepalese people live in the Seattle area, and many are turning to each other for support. Officials have confirmed that more than 5,000 people died in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

In this photo provided by Azim Afif a man approaches the scene after an avalanche triggered by a massive earthquake swept across Everest Base Camp, Nepal on Saturday, April 25, 2015.
Azim Afif via AP

Authorities in Nepal say nearly 1,900 people are confirmed dead following a powerful earthquake near the capital Kathmandu, where homes and ancient temples collapsed amid the intense temblor and strong aftershocks.

Dozens of people in three neighboring countries were also killed. At least eight were reported dead on Mount Everest, and perhaps dozens more trapped by a quake-triggered avalanche that hit the world's tallest peak at the height of the climbing season.

Updated at 11:10 p.m. ET

The desperate search for survivors continues Sunday in Nepal. Strong aftershocks woke thousands of Nepalese who were forced to spend the cold night outdoors.

A magnitude-3.0 earthquake is small, but most people can feel it. Historically, Oklahoma got less than two of those a year, but in 2013 it became two a week.

It's only gotten more active since then — last year, the state had three times as many earthquakes as in the entire seismically active state of California.

Congressional Democrats from up and down the West Coast are asking the House Appropriations Committee to allocate more money for a new earthquake early warning system.

The warning system uses sensors to detect the initial, less destructive waves of an earthquake.

So it doesn't give much advance notice. Somewhere between a few seconds and a minute.

KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Early warnings for earthquakes already occur in Japan, and they’re being piloted in California. Now the University of Washington hopes to bring them to the Northwest.

Five years ago today, an earthquake devastated the lives of millions of Haitians. Hundreds of thousands died, and many more were displaced from their homes. Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd went to Brockton, Mass., to speak with a group of Haitians still struggling to adjust to life in America.

Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch makes a run against the Baltimore Ravens at CenturyLink Field in 2011.
Flickr Photo/JBLM PAO (CC0-BY-NC-ND)

Jeannie Yandel talks to John Vidale who explains how local seismologists are harnessing the power of Seahawks fans to test new earthquake sensor technology. Vidale is a professor of earth and space science at University of Washington and the director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, which allows you to track the shaking of CenturyLink Field during the Seahawks game.

The new federal budget sent to the president's desk over the weekend includes $5 million for earthquake early warning along the West Coast. With this funding, an alert system should begin to roll out regionally next year.

Any parent of a rambunctious youngster can tell you trouble might be afoot when things go quiet in the playroom. Two independent research initiatives indicate there is a comparable situation with the Cascadia earthquake fault zone.

The Washington state education department has released a report detailing the natural disaster risks for schools across the state.

Along with familiar risks like earthquakes and wildfires, the list of natural disasters that threaten Washington schools includes things you may not have known to worry about.

Like tsunami indundation in Seattle.

In Auburn and Puyallup, it’s lahars – mud flows from volcanic eruptions.

Emergency managers in Oregon have a new tool to educate the public about earthquake preparedness. It's a comic book. And it's co-produced by one of the nation's top comic book publishers.

Research geologists have just finished a field trial to test a less invasive way to complete seismic hazard surveys.

So far this year, Oklahoma has had more earthquakes of a magnitude 3.0 or greater than any other state in the country — including California. More than 200, just since January.

This is a new and remarkable phenomenon. Just five years ago, Oklahoma was averaging only two 3.0 earthquakes a year. Now, it’s averaging one or two a day.

Scientists are saying that oil and gas-related activity, including fracking and wastewater disposal wells in the state, may be partially to blame.

Flickr Photo/Seattle Municipal Archives

Ross Reynolds talks to Dr. John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, about new research on predicting earthquakes.

Courtesy Washington State Department of Ecology

Marcie Sillman talks to John Starbard, director of King County's Department of Permitting and Environmental Review, about the county’s effort to map out areas that might be prone to landslides and earthquakes.

Oregon State University (OSU) Press

Ross Reynolds speaks with Bonnie Henderson about her new book "The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast."

Just off the coast of Washington and Oregon is a fault line with potential to unleash an earthquake larger than the deadly magnitude 9 Japan quake in 2011 that triggered a tsunami.

Henderson tells the story about how geologists learned of the Cascadia Subduction Zone and how public officials have tried to adopt safety measures.

Spoiler alert: when you hear a siren, walk and keep walking.

Why Some Buildings Aren't Ready For 'The Big One'

Apr 21, 2014
Flickr Photo/Richard Walker (CC BY-NC-ND)

When disaster strikes, architects and engineers see their best laid plans put to the test.

When the Nisqually Earthquake struck in 2001, home repair expert Roger Faris was at the Phinney Neighborhood Center celebrating the retrofit of the former school lunchroom.

Steve Scher recently met with Faris and engineer Dan Say to point out the work that was done to reinforce the old school building. They say there are still hundreds of un-reinforced masonry buildings at risk if and when the next earthquake hits.

Flickr Photo/Richard Walker (CC BY-NC-ND)

Moments before the magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck central and southern Mexico, people received a text message warning on their phones.

Ross Reynolds talks with John Vidale, Washington state seismologist and UW professor, about the challenges to predicting earthquakes.

The extent of the damage isn't yet clear and the six deaths reported so far may be followed by news of other fatalities.

But on the morning after a massive, 8.2 magnitude earthquake off the coast of northern Chile there are sighs of relief there and in neighboring Peru.

U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library

Fifty years ago, a large earthquake centered near Anchorage, Alaska, set off a fatal chain of destruction that reached through Washington and all the way down into California.

March 27, 1964 – Good Friday – was a typical early spring day in Seattle. But just after 7:30 p.m., an earthquake disrupted the peaceful evening all along the Pacific coast.

AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

Marcie Sillman talks with Seattle Times science reporter Sandi Doughton about Japan's efforts to rebuild after the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Name the volcano that geologists consider the most dangerous in the Northwest.

It's been a busy summer on the high seas for researchers trying to figure out the inner workings of an ominous earthquake fault. The Cascadia Subduction Zone runs offshore from Vancouver Island to Northern California. When it rips, we could have a magnitude 9 catastrophe.

University of Washington geophysicist Paul Johnson led a nearly month-long research cruise to the likely epicenter for the Big One. His ship carried an unmanned minisub to probe the seafloor directly over the still somewhat mysterious Cascadia earthquake fault.

There's a joke among scientists: Prediction is difficult, especially about the future. For Ross Stein, it wasn't a joke after the Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004. It killed some 275,000 people. "I just felt almost a sense of shame," Stein says, "that this tragedy could have been so immense in a world where we have so much intense research effort."

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