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Oregon sits on the eastern edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire, near the seismically active Cascadia Subduction Zone. Minor earthquakes are not uncommon here, and most residents are used to occasional tremors - and even occasional warnings about wave run-up from a distant tsunami.
But the geologic record tells us that the region has also witnessed massive, localized quakes and tsunamis, at relatively regular intervals. And science tells us that the next one could be coming soon.
Current research puts the probability of a magnitude 8 or 9 earthquake - on a scale similar to the one that devastated Japan in March 2011 - at 37% within the next 50 years. That's greater than one-in-three odds.
Only since the late 1980s has it been widely understood that western Oregon is perched on the greatest recurring natural hazard in the lower 48 states. For coastal communities, the risk is even greater: large tsunamis will begin to pound the shore within 15-30 minutes after a near-shore undersea earthquake.
Oregon Sea Grant has been working since the 1990s to help coastal residents and visitors understand the risk of living in a seismically active region:
Today, Sea Grant coastal hazards specialist Patrick Corcoran, based in Astoria, works with coastal residents, organizations and businesses to better understand the nature of this seismic hazard, its potential effects on people and towns, and how to prepare for this increasingly likely event.