In “Giant Earthquakes of the Pacific Northwest,” Roy D. Hyndman predicts and proves the magnitude of a potentially devastating subduction earthquake in Cascadia, an area from southern British Columbia to northern California. Evaluating various research methods, international comparison, and historical precedent confirms that Cascadia, per year, rises by approximately one to four millimeters and compacts numerous centimeters horizontally. Converging plates squeeze the crust beneath U.S. and Canadian coastal regions. Once released, this accumulation of disastrous strain will produce sizeable seismic waves, potentially wreaking havoc on a seemingly “calm” section of the Pacific coastal region.
In “The Really Big One,” Kathryn Schulz frameworks and warns of the Cascadia subduction zone earthquake, framing the natural disaster as “the worst… in the history of the continent.” Through relatable hand demonstrations and humanizing research descriptions, Schulz warns of a catastrophic rebound of the North American “spring” releasing compression and elevation built over eras of time. The recent discovery of the region’s disastrous potential has produced a wealth of proof, stemming from an observation of the Ring of Fire geographic location to a connection between a Japanese “orphan tsunami” and dead trees near the Washington coast. Goldfinger’s reoccurrence interval proves that Cascadia’s long period of quiet is bound to end in an 8.7 to 9.2 earthquake, leaving the area unrecognizable. Surface waves will shake and devastate the area on both a domestic and infrastructural level. Schulz personalizes the threat of earthquakes, landslides, liquidation, and tsunamis, warning that running will not work geologic time “catches up.”
I believe the least scientifically certain element of the threat is the time in which the Cascadia subduction zone earthquake will strike. Seismologist like Goldfinger have predicted the ratio of possibility, but human nature allows nonchalance when met with an inexact deadline. The narrow-down of an exact date is observably impossible and though the threat of death should be extremely relevant to those occupying the region, it is easy to “procrastinate” on the imminent disaster. The material is extremely relevant, but sadly journalists have a tenancy to report on the here and now, so this lethal, predictable natural disaster is not receiving the consistent coverage it deserves. As a lover of great writing, I enjoyed The New Yorker article. Schulz humanized a very technical explanation of the Cascadia threat. Hyndman communicates science to scientists who do not need fluff to hold their attention, but Schulz translates the data into a palatable description (surprisingly palatable for: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE). I admire Schulz’s communication of science because it reaches a bigger audience who need to understand the threat of the ground underneath us.