Small tremors along West Coast could lead to ‘big one’

National News
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A small burst of tremors have been recorded along the West Coast in the last few weeks, causing scientists and geologists to pay close attention. 

Scott Burns, a professor of geology at Portland State University, tells KOIN 6 this event is “quite interesting.”

“This is what we call a slow slip type of movement,” he said. “The Juan De Fuca Plate is moving underneath us and then all of the sudden, about every 14 months, it stops and it goes in a westerly direction. And as it does that, it creates a lot of tremors. So we are in this slow slip type of movement right now and that’s why we’re getting a lot of tremors up in Washington, Northern California and then some here in Oregon.”

About every 14 months this happens, he said. Eventually, the Juan De Fuca Plate will continue going in an easterly direction and “keep building up the stress in the rocks.”

Burns and other scientists predict the “big one” will likely occur during one of these slow slip events.

Each slow slip event puts additional stress onto the “lock zone,” eventually causing it to “break” and create a 9.0 or larger magnitude earthquake.

Burns said the “big one” will shake for around four minutes and cause extensive damage.

He cautioned that the slow slip events are a good reminder to be prepared and have a plan with family and an emergency kit at your home. 

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