Acute Hazards

The Pacific Northwest is subject to the rupture of the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ), resulting in an earthquake and near field tsunami. Some estimates predict a 7-12% chance of full rupture of the CSZ over the next 50-years [1].

In light of the risks associated with this hazard, the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission was tasked with creating the Oregon Resilience Plan (ORP) [2]. The ORP outlines the current status of Oregon’s infrastructure to withstand a rupture of the CSZ, as well as provides recommendations for improvements. The ultimate goal is to protect citizens from life-threatening physical harm, while simultaneously providing avenues for communities to recover quickly following the event. The central finding of the ORP is that Oregon’s infrastructure is currently ill-prepared to withstand the rupture of the CSZ.

Identifying appropriate mitigation measures to reduce the consequences associated with the CSZ, proves to be a difficult task considering that social, ecological, and economic benefits should be evaluated with each alternative. The Oregon Coastal Futures project aims to address these challenges by considering the effects of an earthquake/tsunami event within the framework of the Envision model. The acute hazard modeling will assess the performance and recovery of multiple infrastructure components including:

  • Buildings

  • Electric power network

  • Transportation network

  • Water supply network

The effects that different mitigation and recovery strategies have on these infrastructure components, as well as their larger consequences to social, ecological, and economic systems will be evaluated.


[1] USGS, 2012. Turbidite Event History – Methods and Implications for Holocene Paleoseismicity of the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

[2] Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission, 2013. The Oregon Resilience Plan

© Oregon State University