Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Tsunami secure

  • Written by  Tom Hart
  • Published in Oceans
Seattle, Washington, USA Seattle, Washington, USA Shutterstock
22 Nov
2014
Twenty-five minutes isn’t long to find shelter from a tsunami, but that’s how long Washington state residents living in coastal areas would have if a major earthquake hit the Cascasia Subduction Zone

The Zone is a 700-mile-long fault on the US West Coast where the Juan de Fuca Plate is pushed under the North American Plate. It has the potential to generate magnitude nine earthquakes.

‘It used to be thought that Cascadia was not an active fault,’ said Tim Walsh, chief hazard geologist at the Department for Natural Resources. ‘Not only has Cascadia [now] been found to be an active fault, it has a ten per cent chance that it will cause an earthquake in the next 50 years.’

In order to mitigate the threat, Walsh developed the first tsunami shelter in the US. The modified school gym can shelter 1,000 people within a 20-minute walking distance, and was chosen after using tsunami modelling to determine the best location. Called GeoClaw, the model allowed oceanographers, engineers and geographers involved in the project to work out where additional risks, such as landslides, would occur. It also allowed the project to determine how much pressure the shelter would have to withstand.

The shelter is to be built on a dune ridge, which will leave the roof standing 55 feet above sea level. Reinforced concrete cores at the building’s corners and stairways are designed to withstand the earthquake and any following storm surge. At the moment, the Washington coastline has few buildings taller than three stories, leaving many vulnerable to tsunami risks, added Walsh.

Related items

Julysub 2020

geo line break v3

Free eBooks - Geographical Newsletter

geo line break v3

geo line break v3

University of Winchester

geo line break v3

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Wildlife

Increasing reports of seized jaguar fangs and skin suggest that…

Geophoto

Forced isolation has given many of us the chance to…

Oceans

A fifth of the ocean floor has now been mapped,…

Wildlife

Four ex-circus lions discovered in France are due to be…

Oceans

A roundup of some of the top discussions from the…

Energy

The agave plant, used to make Tequila, has proven itself…

Climate

Concerns about the ozone hole have diminished as levels of…

Wildlife

In the Eastern Cape of South Africa, Munu – a…

Geophoto

Photography competition, Earth Photo, returns for the third year with…

Oceans

A new study reveals the process behind the strange phenomenon…

Wildlife

Hunting is a topic that attracts polarised viewpoints. But as…

Oceans

A compilation of 50-years worth of data on human activity…

Wildlife

From the US to the Mediterranean, herds of goats are…

Wildlife

Meet the 2020 Whitley Award winners

Wildlife

Protecting the most famous members of the animal kingdom may…

Climate

With Milan announcing an ambitious new plan to reduce air…