Seismo Blog

SoundersFC Soccer Shake Experiment

November 8, 2019

by Steve Malone

SoundersFC Soccer Shake

November 8, 2019 

This “SoundersFC Soccer Shake” experiment is part of our routine training for rapid instrument installation and urban seismology and is being run with permission from the Seattle Sounders Football Club.  Similar to monitoring the Seattle Seahawks football games a few years ago we will install seismographs at CenturyLink Field (this time only one in the stadium) and monitor the ground shaking due to fan enthusiasm both inside the stadium and at a site not far outside the stadium.  Realtime seismograms will be available via our web pages during this experiment and this blog will be updated from time to time as this experiment progresses.

Everyone knows that enthusiastic sports fans can be very loud, particularly when cheering for their home team.  However, as seismologists we are not so interested in sound levels as we are in ground vibrations. Fans simply yelling will be of no interest to us; however their jumping up and down should generate vibrations in the stadium and even be transmitted through the ground to sites at some distance.  The SounderFC fans are particularly well known for their synchronized rhythmic jumping together, which should generate very strong seismic signals. Just how strong; that is the question we hope to answer.


Some Background

November 9, 2019

Before anyone gets too excited that this will be a unique experiment you should know that seismic recordings of sports fan activity is not a new thing.  Both American football and real football (soccer) have had numerous cases of crowd generated vibrations being recorded by sensitive seismographs, usually near the stadium. One of the first I am aware of was the “Gol del terremoto”  (earthquake goal) in Argentina in 1992.  As recently as last year highly published soccer fan quakes were in the regular press and social media in Leicester, England, and Barcelona, Spain. One of the most unusual reports was from Cameroon in 2006 when widely distributed, very sensitive research seismographs showed slight wiggles all at the same time as important goals were scored by the national team.  In this case it was attributed to people all over the country watching the match on TV who jumped up and down all at the same time.  Thus, while widely recored, it was from sources near each station.

We don't expect any major new revelations from our experiment this Sunday, but it provides a good opportunity for some of the recently hired PNSN staff to get experience with rapid seismograph mobilization and testing of our complete recording, displaying and analysis systems.  In addition the Seattle Sounders in the MLS Cup at home should provide some really interesting seismic signals, and one never knows what might be learned when new and different sorts of data are obtained.

Our seismograph was installed this evening, but technical difficulties have prevented it from being recorded in the lab yet.  We hope this problem will be fixed in the morning before the game.

At the Stadium

Novemeber 10, 2019

The monitoring crew, myself, Micky and Elizabeth arrived at the stadium at about 9:30am and after some delays got in to make final connection adjustments to our temprorary seismograph, SFC.  Once it got connected to the internet and data started flowing it has taken some time for it to catch up to real time (since it was storing data locally without the ability to send it untilljust a bit ago.  SFC is located at the southwest corner of the stadium at ground level almost under the main SounderFC fan section.  Here is a photo of the actual instrement installed with Doug, (field tech and outreach expert) being happy that it is working.

The three of us are in the press box with a good view of the fans in the south end and will be watching for when they get really wild and crazy... more wild and crazy than they are most of the time.  Here we are waiting for the game to start.

See the wiggles

Here are URLs to see the seismic data online:

Quickshake has very little delay and for the two nearby stations SFC (in the stadium( and KDK (just outside the stadium) can be found at:,SFC.HNZ.UW.--

The helicorder-like plots can be found at:

Note that there is a scaling problem because the SFC station was operating in a very noisy site for testing ealier in the day.  Once the data catches up and during the game it should look OK.

Half Time

The first half is over and it was difficult to always associate seismic signals with what was going on in the stadium.  At least one period seem to be very obvious with the south end fans jumping together.  At first I thought it was a train going by but it was very much lined up with when the fans were jumping.  Here is the specrogram during that period:

Note timing in all of these plots is in UTC (8 hours ahead of local time).  One may see lots of big signals on SFC during halftime (after 20:57) which is due to the fact that our instrument is in a closet just outside the press interview room and near the area where lots of people go by before, after the game and during halftime. Of course even during the game some local noise may result that we will not know the source of.

Second half

We caught the spectrograms of the Sounder's goal on both stations.  The differences in frequency between the two stations is interesting but we don't yet understand it.

At first glance the second goal seem to have been stronger  than the first but the third maybe not quite as strong.  It has been challenging to try and keep up with what the fans were doing in the excitement of the game.  It will take some additional analysis to understand all the different types of signals that we recorded and how strong due to what actions.  Check back in a few days.... or I may go on vacation and it will take longer.

Congratulation Sounders and the great Sounder FANS!!


One final plot today provided by Paul Bodin in the quiet of the lab filtered and scaled the SFC trace so that it covered the whole game.  There are parts that we don't yet know about but the goals are very obvious.


 A bit of additional analysis


Nov. 12, 2019

Back in the lab using display and analysis techniques and having more time and using my notes of what fans seemed to be doing I have a few interesting observations.  Before going into detail, here is a review of where the stations are located, their instrument type and analysis technique.  The two stations of interest are SFC, which was located in a communications utility closet under the southwest corner of the stands not far from the player and press entrance to the stadium, and KDK located in a nearby building just west of the stadium about 150 meters away.  Both instruments are Titan strong-motion acceleragraphs (flat response to acceleration) with a gain of about 220,000 counts/m/s**2.  This means that a signal with a peak value of 400 counts comes out to 0.0018 m/s**2 or about 0.02 %g where g is the acceleration of gravity.  Typically it takes shaking of around 0.01 %g to be felt by people who are not moving around.

One thing we realized at the time of the game was that the instrument at SFC was not in a good place because of local machinery.  Just about the time the game started very strong constant shaking at high frequency started up and continued for most of the game.  We think this was some sort of fan or ventilation system.  There were also other local vibrations due to people walking within a few feet or other machinery.  Fortunately this “noise” signal can mostly be filtered out by applying a low-pass or band-pass filter to the data leaving signals that were due to more distant sources visible, like the crowd jumping in the stands above.  Station KDK does not have this high-frequency machinery noise but does have some periodic signals due to motor vehicles on the nearby streets.

Analysis displays I use below include time-series plots of the vertical channel of each instrument and spectrograms of different times during the game illustrating what causes different sorts of signals.  Spectrograms are colorful plots in which time is on the horizontal axes and frequency is on the vertical axes, and color is proportional to the signal amplitude at that time and frequency; warm colors are for stronger signals and cool colors for the weaker ones.

First I show a minute-long seismogram around each of the Sounders' goals as recorded on station KDK.  These have been filtered from 1 to 26 Hz to best display the signal generated by the crowd motions.  Peak accelerations are about 0.020 %g, 0.046 %g and 0.28 %g respectively.  Note that for the first goal the relatively strong shaking goes on for most of a minute, and in all three cases there are slightly stronger and weaker periods of shaking as more or fewer people get involved in jumping.


We will now look at the first goal again but in different ways and at the closer station, SFC.  Here a raw seismogram is shown at the top, a spectrogram next and then two different filtered versions of the seismogram.  In the first trace the evidence for the crowd shaking is almost impossible to see, because it is drowned out by almost constant strong, high-frequency vibrations.  The shaking is at 0.08 %g, one would think strong enough to be easily felt by someone sitting next to the instrument.  However, due to its high-frequency, it might be felt only as a slight buzz. From the spectrogram one can see a very strong (dark red) line at about 45 Hz and several other weaker lines down to 30 Hz.  Thus, the effect of the local machinery noise can be removed if the traces are filtered to remove the high-frequency as was done in the third trace.  The strong goal reaction signal is now easily seen.  Filtering to even lower frequencies (fourth trace) one can see a second strong signal starting about 21:26 Z and lasting for just over 20 seconds.  This can even be seen in the spectrogram as a couple of lines down in the range of 2-5 Hz.  What could this be due to?


Looking through more of the game I found similar signals fairly often.  There was one case in which it was particularly strong and long lasting and is shown in the following figure.  My notes for this period of time say: “20:48:00: up to two minutes possible train but strong rhythmic jumping of south-end fans going on exactly the same time”.  From previous experience we know that trains going by the east side of the stadium generate seismic signals. However, they are always more broad-band (showing all frequencies about the same) and start more gradually and last longer (see the last figure for an example long before the game).  In this case the spectrogram shows very strong lines at about 2 and 4 Hz with weaker lines above.  Low-pass filtering the seismograms for station SFC (3rd trace) and KDK (4th trace) one can even see the individual peaks.  There are about 20 of them in 10 seconds, so 2 per second or 2 Hz. Indeed the synchronized fan jumping (“jump-quakes”) in time to the fan leaders and a drum is very effectively being recorded strongly even outside the stadium.  It has an amplitude comparable to the more random signals generated by goal enthusiasm, which probably is due to people all over the stadium jumping but not in a synchronized way. (And there are many other cases over the whole game).


There are many other seismic signals that we can now interpret by having detailed notes of fan reaction to field events such the player introduction march, near goals, great saves and the end of the game and even the post game celebration.  Some are subtle but clearly have characteristic signals.  Of some interest is what these signals looked like long before the game or even before there were many people in the stadium.  The following shows a 20 minute period including the signal from a train which can even weakly be seen on KDK on the opposite side of the stadium.

Some Comparisons

Those who remember our previous monitoring of sports events at Century Link Field will remember the "beast-quake" and other Seahawk playoff games we reported on.  While American Football and Soccer are very different sports the fan enthusiasm for each turns out to be quite comparable from a seismic point of view.  Seahawk touchdowns and Sounder goals generated shaking of roughly the same levels, though touchdowns had a longer buildup since a long touchdown run ("beast-quake") could last for several tens of seconds, and a soccer goal can occur suddenly without much build up.  Similarly the Seahawk “dance-quakes” and the Sounder “jump-quakes” are comparable in size, though the jump-quakes have a sharper spectral peak, since the participants are well synchronized, and the dance-quakes are more free form.  However, the strongest signal by a bit was the “chant-quake” of 2017 when much of the stadium somehow got coordinated chanting (and jumping together), “dee-fence-now” all together. 

More analysis may reveal other interesting aspects of this experiment. However, for this blog we will leave it here.

Help us figure out how Seattle’s unique geography affects earthquake shaking.

Ml=4.6 Monroe Earthquake of July 12, 2019

July 19, 2019

by Steve Malone

Additional Info is available for this earthquake, via its event page.

Typical Mount Hood Earthquake Swarm

July 9, 2019

by Steve Malone

The swarm that started late on July 7 really got hopping on July 9 at about 9am PDT (16:00Z). This swarm looks similar to previous ones near Mount Hood.

An updated tremor monitoring system

May 21, 2019

by Aaron Wech

A completely redesigned tremor location program and web interface is now available. The hourly tremor plots have been discontinued.

OOPS - Correction to last post

April 11, 2019

by Steve Malone

I made some significant errors in my last post on ETS. I try to correct these here.

When is an ETS just T

April 8, 2019

by Steve Malone

Current ongoing Puget Sound deep tremor is probably NOT a real, classic ETS. There are several reasons why we think so.

March 2019 Washington Tremor

March 29, 2019

by Mouse Reusch

To be tremor, or not to be tremor. That is the question...

Earthquakes and Volcanoes; Warnings?

March 14, 2019

by Nicholas Park

Comparing earthquake and volcano early warning systems from a lay perspective.
We have removed our seismic stations from the Rattlesnake Ridge landslide even though it continues to slowly move.

Come for the pretty pictures, stay for the science.

November 30, 2018

by Alex Hutko

Sea monsters, beautiful waves, and twitter scientists.

Something Scary at the PNSN just before Halloween

October 29, 2018

by Steve Malone

Our primary operating computer system will be changing hardware and some software on Oct 30.

Current ShakeAlert Implementation and Partners

October 19, 2018

by Elizabeth Urban

Following this week's Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill, we thought it would be appropriate to talk about the local progress in earthquake early warning.

Rattlesnake Ridge Landslide slowing down

July 9, 2018

by Steve Malone

Update Aug 5, 2018. From 180 tiny events/hour back in March the landslide is producing only about 100 events/hour now. Update Aug 5, 2018.

MSH Anniversary Media Round-Up

May 18, 2018

by Elizabeth Urban

A collection of news stories on the 38th anniversary of the Mount St. Helens eruption
The final blog about The M9 Project is going to focus on you. What are you going to experience during a megathrust earthquake? How do we connect science and community? What should you do to be prepared?

Landslide Study with Nodal Seismographs

March 26, 2018

by Amanda Thomas

A special seismic array for studying the RattleSnake Landslide. March 26, 2018

Seismology in the air

March 22, 2018

by Steve Malone

A bolide explosion off the coast is recorded on many seismic stations allowing us to get an approximate location.

Continued Landslide Monitoring

February 11, 2018

by Steve Malone

Steady landslide motion still of seismic interest. Update on March 26, 2018

January 2018 Oregon Tremor Event Update

January 31, 2018

by Nancy Sackman

Oregon tremor over!
In the previous blog post about The M9 Project, we talked about how the Cascadia Subduction Zone can generate an M9.0 earthquake. However, our understanding of what an earthquake of this scale would actually look like is less advanced. While we have evidence of past earthquakes (e.g., native oral histories, tsunami records), we have no quantitative observations of how strong the shaking would be during a megathrust earthquake in the Pacific Northwest.

Seismic monitoring of a slow landslide

December 30, 2017

by Steve Malone

Active landslide at Union Gap. Updated Jan 31, 2018.

December 2017 Oregon Tremor Event - Update

December 27, 2017

by Nancy Sackman

Update to Central Oregon Tremor - moving toward Portland and Medford

December 2017 Oregon Tremor Event

December 15, 2017

by Nancy Sackman

Over the past 9-10 days, it appears that tremor in central Oregon has picked up.
What is “The Big One” going to look like? How soon will we know it’s coming? How are our cities and communities going to fare?

December 2017 Oregon Tremor Event

December 15, 2017

by Nancy Sackman

December 2017 Oregon Tremor Event


Over the past 9-10 days, it appears that tremor in central Oregon has picked up (Figure 1).  The last slow slip and tremor event was in February 2016, 22 months ago.  


Figure 1

Figure 1. Age progression of tremor in central Oregon for the past 9 days.  Earliest tremor locations start from 12/5/2017 and propagate roughly outward, clustering near Salem and Roseburg.  Last update was December 14, 2017.


Tremor is the release of seismic noise from slow slip along the interface of the Juan de Fuca and North American plates and lasts for several weeks to months.  This process is known as Episodic Tremor and Slip (ETS).  Slow slip happens down-dip of the locked zone (Figure 2).  The locked zone is where tectonic stress builds up until it releases in a great earthquake or megaquake.  The recurrence interval of slow slip and tremor varies at different regions along the Cascadia Subduction Zone.  


Figure 2

Figure 2. Cross section of the subducting Juan de Fuca Plate.  Figure from Vidale, J. and Houston H.  (2012) Slow slip:  A new kind of earthquake (Physics Today, 2012 pages 38-43).


The last ETS event in Cascadia started in February 2017 around the western edge of the Olympic Mountains.  The duration was approximately 35 days with a two-week quiescent period.  Prior ETS events in northern Washington/Vancouver Island area was approximately December 2015.  


The last ETS event in central Oregon was 2016 and lasted just over a week before it stopped on March 1, 2016.  


ETS events are still being studied to understand the processes about slow slip and megathrust earthquakes.  

More information about slow slip and tremor can be found here on the PNSN website.

December 2017 Oregon Tremor Event - Update

December 27, 2017

by Nancy Sackman

Tremor has continued in Oregon since the last post on December 15th.  Current tremor activity has been ongoing since about 12/5/2017 (figure 1).  


Figure 1

Figure 1. Age progression of tremor in central Oregon for the past two weeks.  Earliest tremor locations start from 12/5/2017 and propagate northerly and southerly.  Last update was December 26, 2017.


Since December 19th, tremor has now migrated northerly toward Portland and southerly toward Medford (figure 2).


Figure 2

Figure 2. Tremor activity from 12/19 to 12/26 showing progression in a northern and southerly direction.

More FAQs on Slow Slip and Tremor


On our previous blog post, we briefly discussed what ETS (episodic tremor and slip) is.  Let’s go through a couple of more frequently asked questions.


1.What is tremor?


Tremor in the Cascadia Subduction Zone is the seismic noise of slow moving earthquake along the interface of the subducting Juan de Fuca Plate and the North American plates.  Compared to normal earthquakes, tremor has lower frequency energy and can last for minutes, hours or weeks.


2. What about volcanic tremor?


Tremor can also be volcanic.  But ETS is deep, non volcanic signatures that are a result of plate motion, not magmatic movement.


3. How deep are the tremors?


As it states on our website - “This is a topic of ongoing research.”  But research suggests that it occurs near the plate interface at approximately 30 - 40 km deep.   


4. What is the magnitude of tremor?


Tremor is probably made up of many tiny individual earthquake-like sources each with a "magnitude" of less than 1. Since tremor is an on-going continuous signal assigning a magnitude to it is never done.  


Check out the map on our web page:


In the previous blog post about The M9 Project, we talked about how the Cascadia Subduction Zone can generate an M9.0 earthquake. However, our understanding of what an earthquake of this scale would actually look like is less advanced. While we have evidence of past earthquakes (e.g., native oral histories, tsunami records), we have no quantitative observations of how strong the shaking would be during a megathrust earthquake in the Pacific Northwest.

To address this problem, researchers with The M9 Project used 3D computer simulations to help understand what 50 different realizations of an M9.0 earthquake could look like in Cascadia. To create these simulations, The M9 Project researchers used multiple supercomputers: Stampede (University of Texas - Austin), Constance (Pacific Northwest National Lab), and Hyak (University of Washington). A single earthquake simulation took up to 46 hours to complete. If it was possible to run these earthquake models on a personal computer (many of which have a mere 2 processors, compared to the 576 processors used to run these simulations on a supercomputer), it would take about 522 days to complete one simulation.


Why are earthquake simulations important?



The unique properties of the Cascadia Subduction Zone prevents a side-by-side comparison between a future Cascadia earthquake, and other earthquakes that have occured around the world. For instance, an M9.0 earthquake in Japan, Chile, or Indonesia may look very different from an M9.0 in the Pacific Northwest.


Scientists have developed equations that can estimate the strength of ground shaking based on an earthquake’s magnitude and a specific location’s distance from the fault. However, these equations still rely on averages, and do not fully account for location specific 3-D effects (i.e., “How will seismic waves bounce around in the Seattle basin?”). Conversely, the supercomputer earthquake simulations, while still having some unknowns, can estimate shaking at every point in the Pacific Northwest, and are specific to the geologic conditions of the Cascadia Subduction Zone.



How are these earthquake simulations created?

Out of an infinite number of possibilities, 50 simulations of an M9.0 earthquake were run by The M9 Project team. The individual earthquake scenarios had a few important variations between them, that made each earthquake source unique:  (1) the hypocenter location (i.e., where the earthquake starts), (2) how far inland the rupture extends (i.e., how close the earthquake gets to major inland cities, such as Seattle), (3) the location of “sticky patches” on the fault, that generate the strongest ground shaking, and (4) the slip distribution on the fault (i.e., how far certain areas on the fault move during the earthquake).


Are certain earthquake scenarios “better” or “worse”?

The area affected by a megathrust earthquake is large enough that the outcome is going vary by location. A “best-case” scenario for one area in the Pacific Northwest could be a “worst-case” scenario somewhere else in the region.

One of the results of the computer simulations showed that when an M9.0 earthquake occurs on the Cascadia Subduction Zone, less violent shaking may be felt closer to the epicenter. This is because an earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone will not occur at a single point -- instead, it will rupture a very large area. As the rupture moves along the fault, the seismic waves will start to “pile up,” similar to the Doppler Effect.


As the waves at the front of the rupture combine, their amplitudes get larger and create more violent ground motion. Therefore, locations closer to the hypocenter may receive less complex and destructive seismic waves than locations that are farther along the rupture and experience this “piling-up” of seismic energy.

In these two videos, notice how Seattle's mock seismogram has larger spikes (which denotes stronger ground motion) when the earthquake source is farther south, and the fault ruptures north.



This variation by location makes it virtually impossible to award a scenario the title “best-case” for the entire Pacific Northwest.


Can we do even better?

These computer simulations are the most accurate representations of what an M9.0 earthquake would look like in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, there is a lot of variability in these calculations because there are still too many unknowns. An increase in seismic and GPS instrumentation throughout the Pacific Northwest, especially offshore, will help us identify more specifics about the Cascadia Subduction Zone and improve future computer simulations. For instance, we may be able to determine where “sticky patches” are located on the fault and obtain a more detailed image of the 3D structure of the subduction zone. Further constraining these variables in the computer simulations will ultimately help us refine our estimates of seismic hazards in the Pacific Northwest.


Special Thanks To


Dr. Erin Wirth, UW Affiliate Assistant Professor



M9 Simulation coverage from UW News


50 simulations of the 'Really Big One' show how a M9.0 Cascadia earthquake could play out - Hannah Hickey


Flickr Album

We are going to have The Big One. That’s a fact.


The final blog about The M9 Project is going to focus on you. What are you going to experience during a megathrust earthquake? How do we connect science and community? What should you do to be prepared?


The Next Stages of The M9 Project


Seismologists are not the only contributors to The M9 Project. Civil engineers, urban design and planners, statisticians, social scientists and public policy researchers also play a role in determining earthquake risk, safety measures, and public response to hazards.


Understanding the hazards and mechanisms of an earthquake is one thing, communicating effectively to the public is a completely different ball game. The next steps of The M9 Project focus on how we define and discuss hazards with communities.


For example, how does the way we design hazard maps affect how communities approach hazard planning? (See photo below) Or, how can hazards planning be steered towards rebuilding to community-specific values?



From assessing the utility of hazard maps (see image below), to hosting community planning workshops , The M9 Project’s research into “long term” preparedness- mitigation, response, and recovery focuses on how to best help you. We will discuss what to expect when the big one hits, as well as some resources so you can take steps to prepare .


Learning about Cascadia from other Large Earthquakes


The last megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia Subduction Zone occurred in 1700 AD, before written records were kept in the region. In addition to The M9 Project research at UW, we can also look to observations of other major earthquakes worldwide, to help us predict what The Big One may look like in the Pacific Northwest.


Ground Shaking


A magnitude 9 earthquake will generate very strong shaking for several minutes. The intensity, measured by the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI), is determined by observations during an earthquake. Shaking tends to decrease farther away from the fault and will vary with local soil conditions, so intensity will vary by location. A more detailed description on intensity can be found here.


Below is a comparison of the shaking intensity from the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, compared to a hypothetical  M9.0 earthquake scenario. A megathrust earthquake will be felt over a much larger area, and generate stronger shaking.




You can find more about how magnitude and intensity are related here.


As part of The M9 Project, UW civil engineers are researching building response to strong ground shaking from a magnitude 9.0 earthquake in Seattle. This video from Kinetica Dynamics shows skyscrapers in Tokyo shaking from the 2011 M9.0 Japan earthquake.





Large earthquakes on a subduction zone are capable of generating large tsunamis. For example, the 2004 M9.1 Sumatra earthquake resulted in a 30+ meter high tsunami on the west coast of Sumatra (source). For more about tsunamis, visit our tsunami overview page.


This NOAA video models the tsunami from the 1700 Cascadia earthquake, which caused damage and loss of life as close as the west coast of North America, and as far away as Japan.  



We expect the next great Cascadia earthquake to be similar. As mentioned in our first M9 Project blog post, the record of past megathrust earthquakes can be found in muddy estuaries on the coast of the Pacific Northwest. In the layers of coast that have subsided and been filled again, there are bands of sand brought inland by tsunami waves, time and time again. Here is a article written by the American Museum of Natural History with more information on the Ghost Forests on the PNW.




For liquefaction to occur, three things must happen. (1) Young, loose and grainy soil (2) needs to be saturated with water, and (3) experience strong ground shaking. The USGS, in coordination with California Geological Survey, give a summary of liquefaction and its effects here.


This video from the 2011 M9.0 Japan earthquake shows dramatic cracks in the ground, as well as liquefaction.



Our webpage on liquefaction includes video of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, as well as links to liquefaction hazard maps for Washington and Oregon.




Strong shaking can increase susceptibility to landslides.


This blog from the American Geophysical Union details some of the significant landslides in Paupa New Guniea that were triggered by a M7.5 earthquake on February 25th, 2011.


The Pacific Northwest is susceptible to landslides due to seasonal conditions, and strong shaking will increase landslide risk. Here are some resources from the states of Washington and Oregon.


Building Damage and Fires


The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake caused widespread damage to infrastructure, such as the collapse of the Cypress Viaduct in Oakland, and fires in the San Francisco area.


Major cities in the Pacific Northwest would be just as susceptible to fire damage, and the construction of the Cypress Viaduct bears a striking resemblance to Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct.



So, What Can I Do?


In order to prepare effectively, it is important to be aware of all earthquake-related hazards, such as the ones listed above. The following websites are great resources for earthquake hazards and preparedness in the Pacific Northwest. We encourage you to know your risks, be prepared, mitigate against hazards, respond safely, and enagae in holistic recovery planning.


In the event of an earthquake, don't forget to drop, cover and hold!


Special Thanks To


Dr. Erin Wirth, Affiliate Professor, University of Washington

Lan T. Nguyen, Doctoral Student, Interdisciplinary Urban Design and Planning, University of Washington



MSH Anniversary Media Round-Up

May 18, 2018

by Elizabeth Urban

On May 18th, 1980, at 8:32 AM, the landscape in Southwestern Washington was forever changed by an explosive eruption of Mount St. Helens. This was the most deadly volcanic event in US history. 

Mount St. Helens is part of the Cascade Range, a chain of volcanoes from British Columbia to Northern California. The PNSN and the Cascades Volcano Observatory cooperatively operate 21 seismometers on or near Mount St. Helens, the most historically active volcano in the Cascade Range.

Seismogram of May 18th from one of our seismic stations. 

Main PNSN Page on Mount St. Helens

Main CVO Page on Mount St. Helens


On the anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens, earth science gets its day in the spotlight. Here's a collection of news stories about the eruption and what we have learned about volcanoes since 1980.

38 years later: What's changed since the Mount St. Helens Eruption? 
- Q13 News 

Features an interview with PNSN DIrector Emeritus Steve Malone


Mount St. Helens: Remembering the deadliest U.S. eruption 38 years later
- USA Today, King 5 News

Summary of events on May 18th, 1980 with photo galleries

Lessons Learned: Mount St. Helens to Kilauea
- King 5 News

Interview filmed in the PNSN Seismology Lab with Director Emeritus Steve Malone


Remembering Mt. St. Helens as Cascade event looms
- KOIN 6

Event overview, brief discussion of Cascade hazards, and dispels concern of a Kilauea-triggered event in the Cascades.

Photos: The Mt. St. Helens eruption of 1980
- KOIN 6

Includes an interview with CVO Scientist-In-Charge Seth Moran


Scientists Reflect on the Catastrophic 1980 Mount St. Helens Eruption
- Ashley Williams, AccuWeather

Details about the activity that led to the eruption, how life in the MSH area fared, and another Steve Malone feature. 


How Dangerous are the Northwest's Volcanoes?
-KUOW, Oregon Public Broadcasting

Interview with CVO Scientist-In-Charge Seth Moran, discusses Oregon volcano hazards

Current ShakeAlert Implementation and Partners

October 19, 2018

by Elizabeth Urban

Following this week's Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill, we thought it would be approproate to talk about some of the local progress in earthquake early warning. Below is a summary of of our partners for pilot projects in Oregon and Washington.

This blog will be updated with our Washington partners soon!

Impact of Oregon ShakeAlert Pilot Partnership Projects

Lucy Walsh

October 16, 2018


Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB)

  • Eugene Water & Electric Board provides water and electricity to 200,000 customers in Eugene, as well as parts of east Springfield and the McKenzie River Valley.  EWEB is Oregon's largest customer-owned utility.

  • EWEB owns and maintains 800 miles of water pipes, 9 power generating facilities, 16,000 power poles and transmission towers, and 13,000 miles of power lines.

  • The Leaburg Canal pilot project will enhance protection for a 1920s-era earthen power canal that is seismically vulnerable to earthquake-triggered landslides from steep slopes above the canal and potential instabilities of the constructed embankments. Automated dewatering of the canal can prevent canal breaches that might follow heavy shaking, protecting residential properties located between the canal and the McKenzie River. A canal breach could impact several hundred residential properties neighboring the canal.   The potential costs associated with canal breach damage could easily reach tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.

  • The Carmen-Smith pilot project will reduce the potential for earthquake damage to hydroelectric turbine-generator equipment at the Carmen Power Plant. Automatic closure of turbine shutoff valves and a power tunnel intake gate could prevent heavy damage to equipment and associated infrastructure. Preventing or mitigating damage to this critical power generating facility would position EWEB to return electric power to tens of thousands of customers sooner than might otherwise be possible if major equipment repairs were first necessary. The potential costs associated with repairing major damage to power generating equipment could approach 100 million dollars and take multiple years to accomplish.


Bridge Section, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)

  • Oregon Department of Transportation serves all the citizens of Oregon and those traveling through Oregon. Over 36 billion miles were driven by all motorists on Oregon public roads and over 5.2 Billion miles were driven by domestic and international freight trucks on Oregon public roads (Oregon Trucking Association, 2018).

  • In Oregon, there are nearly 3.1 million licensed drivers and roughly 4.1 million registered vehicles; of those, about 3.2 million are passenger vehicles (Oregon DMV, 2018).

  • ODOT delivers a $6B budget in the form of capital improvement and maintenance of the highway system and works with cities and counties (local agencies) to oversee the use of $105 million in federal funds for capital improvement and maintenance of the local agency road systems.

  • Automatic triggering of warning lights on critical, heavy trafficked Oregon bridges not designed for seismic loads, and signaling to take alternate routes on can prevent life safety hazards for pedestrians and motor vehicles. Long-span bridges under the ODOT pilot project include the Interstate 5 Bridge (Portland), the Astoria-Megler Bridge (Astoria), the Yaquina Bay Bridge (Newport), the McCullough Memorial Bridge (Coos Bay), and the Isaac Lee Patterson (Gold Beach).

    • The I-5 Interstate bridge connecting Portland, OR to Vancouver, WA can see hourly traffic volumes upwards of 5,000 vehicles (SW Washington RTD, 2016)

    • Annual average daily traffic (ODOT Transportation Development Division, 2015)

      • Interstate 5 Bridge, Portland = 132,300 vehicles

      • Astoria-Megler Bridge, Astoria = 8,200 vehicles

      • Yaquina Bay Bridge, Newport = 17,000 vehicles

      • McCullough Memorial Bridge, Coos Bay = 13,600 vehicles

      • Isaac Lee Patterson Bridge, Gold Beach = 6,200 vehicles



  • Syn-Apps provides software solutions for delivering mass emergency alerts across an entire business’ communication platform. Auto notification can warn all Syn-Apps customers of impending shaking and provide them the ability to protect their people and their business’ physical assets.

  • Emergency alerts sent from the Syn-Apps Revolution software to indoor IP speakers, outdoor loud horns, digital signs, mobile phones, desktop computers, strobes / beacons, IP desk phones, etc. can be heard or seen by potentially thousands of people located on premise. In addition, organizations can alert people that may be located off-premise by external notification sources such as push notifications to cell phones, SMS text messages, email, or automated dial phone calls.

  • Syn-Apps provides alerting software to 46 companies across 27 cities in Oregon, and to wherever those businesses install the Syn-Apps software (“end points”).  Syn-Apps estimates they have licensed more than 23,000 endpoints in Oregon alone. Syn-Apps also delivers alerting software to customers across the nation, including 270 customers in California and 55 customers in Washington, and 35+ countries.   

  • K-12 education makes up a large portion (~25%) of the Syn-Apps customer base.


Central Power Station, Utilities & Energy Department, Campus Planning & Facilities Management, University of Oregon

  • The Central Power Station (CPS) is a District Energy provider, providing electrical power, heating steam, and chilled water to over 80 large buildings on the UO campus through 5 miles of concrete tunnels, servicing 29,500 students and staff on campus.  

  • UO has the ability to transmit electrical power to the local utility EWEB, and is therefore a potential emergency power source for nearby city government, law enforcement and hospital buildings and up to 100,000 residents

  • Automatic alert signals integrated into the control systems can prevent life threatening conditions, minimize steam ruptures or flooding, as well as minimize the time and cost of restoring critical systems.  Future applications will potentially protect students and staff across campus through a visual notification display.

  • Additionally, automatic actions on critical chilled water and natural gas systems can protect critical university functions, such as computing servers and sensitive research.

  • Approximately 23,000 students are enrolled and 6,500 people are employed at the University of Oregon.  51% of students are from Oregon; 37% of are out-of-state; 12% are international.


Oregon-based RH2 Engineering Partnerships

RH2 Engineering an engineering firm specializing in utility and infrastructure work for municipal clients throughout the Pacific Northwest, known for designing and implementing municipal control systems and emergency response plans for both water and wastewater utilities. RH2’s industrial-grade Advanced Seismic Control (ASC) device receives the ShakeAlert warning signal, translates it into time to shaking and predicted intensity, and triggers automated actions. RH2 has implemented over 50 customized automatic control systems throughout various municipal water supply systems in the Pacific Northwest. These systems are known to be reliable and robust.


Department of Public Works, City of Grants Pass, OR

  • The City of Grants Pass owns and manages a water supply, treatment and distribution system for 40,000 citizens.

  • The system consists of a surface water source, a water treatment plant, 8 treated water storage reservoirs, 13 pump stations, and 188 miles of water distribution mains.

  • Initially, use of the ShakeAlert signal will notify City public works staff to get to safety and to isolate water in the City’s largest water reservoir, preserving it for post-event recovery for thousands of citizens. Future phases will likely protect additional equipment (such as all pump stations and treatment plant process equipment in both the water and wastewater treatment plants), and notify all City staff to get to safety.

  • Shutting down motorized equipment prior to actual shaking occurring can save roughly $200,000 of equipment. Though difficult to predict, cost savings due to reduced fire risk from shutting down power at facilities could range in the millions of dollars.

Public Works Department, City of Albany, OR

  • The City owns and operates a water system and wastewater system to serve approximately 53,000 City customers, as well as the adjacent communities Millersburg and Dumbeck Lane Water District.

  • The City’s joint water system consists of 2 shared surface water sources, 2 water treatment plants, 7 treated water storage reservoirs, 6 pump stations, and 290 miles of water distribution main. The wastewater system is comprised of over 200 miles of sewer main and 14 lift stations delivering wastewater to the jointly owned Albany-Millersburg Water Reclamation Facility.

  • Automatic isolation of water in a critical storage reservoir will preserve water for post-event recovery. The City will also use the signal to notify public works operations staff for further actions at facilities, possibly including the water and wastewater treatment plants, the 6 pump stations, 14 lift stations, and additional reservoirs.

  • Protection of this equipment could save in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Though difficult to predict, cost savings due to reduced fire risk from shutting down power at facilities could range in the millions of dollars.

City of Gresham, OR

  • The City of Gresham owns and manages a water supply and distribution system for 70,000 citizens, with assistance from two contracted partners.

  • The Gresham water system includes 9 pump stations, 7 water storage reservoirs, and miles of cast iron and ductile iron water mains.

  • Automatic notifications will alert public works operations staff for potential actions at facilities, including automated shutdown of motorized equipment at the water treatment plant, the 9 pump stations, and some of the reservoirs.

  • Protection of this equipment could save in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Though difficult to predict, cost savings due to reduced fire risk from shutting down power at facilities could range in the millions of dollars.

South Fork Water Board (SFWB)

  • The South Fork Water Board supplies drinking water to over 100,000 people in Oregon City, West Linn, and some unincorporated areas of Clackamas County.

  • The SFWB owns and manages a water supply system consisting of a large intake and pump station on the Clackamas River, an advanced water treatment plant, 2 treated water storage tanks, 1 major pump station, and several miles of transmission mains for supplying water to other utilities.

  • Automatic notifications to management and operations staff can provide time to shut down power and chemical systems at the water treatment plant, therefore improving recovery times, and evacuate unsafe areas. In addition, power to facilities can be cut to prevent fires and allow safe operator egress from areas that may be damaged or chemically contaminated.

  • Protection of this equipment could save in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Though difficult to predict, cost savings due to reduced fire risk from shutting down power at facilities could range in the millions of dollars.


Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG)

  • As a ShakeAlert Facilitation partner, Rogue Valley Council of Government provides communication and technical expertise to local partners on ShakeAlert information and products.  

  • RVCOG’s focus is on post-event recovery for critical infrastructure and staff members of water, sewer, public safety, public health, transit, land use and transportation planning, government staff, and non-profit disaster relief organizations.

  • RVCOG’s engaged partners across Josephine (population: 84,745) and Jackson county (population: 212,567) include all 15 local governments, 8 additional entities (special districts and higher education) and non-member entities of Providence Hospital, Asante Hospital, Pacific Power, Avista, the Oregon Department of Forestry, ACCESS, the Rogue Valley Manor, Data Center West, and Josephine County 911.

  • All entities involved, approximately 2,000 staff are within the influence of RVCOG partner’s ShakeAlert software installs.  When the 911 call centers in both counties have introduced the software installations into their operations, many thousand more can potentially be impacted.

This blog will be updated with our Washington partners soon!