Earthquakes Hit the Oregon Coast


Tyler Leu, Staff Writer

On December 7th, very early in the morning, an earthquake struck off of the Oregon coast. The Juan De Fuca Plate and Pacific Plate plate boundary is very active, and because the earthquake wasn’t that big, it didn’t draw much attention. However, not long after, another earthquake struck. Then soon after that one, another earthquake struck. Between Tuesday the 7th and Thursday the 9th, there were over 80 earthquakes around 200-250 miles off of the coast, the one of the highest magnitude being a 5.8 magnitude. One of the most fascinating parts of these earthquakes was that nine of them were over magnitude five. You see, at this fault area, only three per year on average of the earthquakes are at or above magnitude five. The amount of earthquakes reaching magnitude five during this cluster of earthquakes triples the average amount of magnitude five earthquakes in this area. 

People living near where these earthquakes occurred are becoming anxious that there may be a tsunami on the way, or even the “big one”. The “big one” refers to the idea that there will be a gigantic earthquake on the west coast at some point in the recent future. This idea is widely believed to be somewhat true. A seemingly random abundance of earthquakes within a three day time span has caused people to wonder if they were warnings. After asking a few of my classmates and friends about their thoughts and feelings about the earthquakes, I got a few responses that it made them nervous and that it may be a warning. This proved that it being a warning was a common thought and concern. However, according to Harold Tobin, the director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington, these quakes are not a warning of the “big one” coming soon. Tobin says that, “Today’s quakes can be thought of as something like a main-shock and a swarm of aftershocks, the one distinction being that in this case, there’s not a lot of magnitude difference among them.” You can just think of the earthquakes as one smaller earthquake that had a lot of similarly sized aftershocks, so don’t be worried that there may be a gigantic earthquake in the future. In conclusion, the series of about 80 earthquakes striking off of the Oregon coast are baffling indeed, but are not thought to be any implication to the “big one” happening soon.