New Findings Indicate Major Earthquake Danger for Portland

May 31, 2001

Geologists in Oregon have found new evidence that the lengthy Portland Hills Fault is active and capable of generating an earthquake, the Oregonian reported yesterday. A recent discovery at Rowe Middle School in Milwaukie, Ore., indicates that the fault ruptured about 10,000 years ago.

Chief State Geologist John D. Beaulieu said the discovery is significant because “the earthquake risk for Portland just got ratcheted up another notch,” according to the Oregonian. Beaulieu said the findings require more research, but that the Portland area and Oregon as a whole need to be prepared for destructive earthquakes.

Beaulieu indicated that the fault has the potential to generate an earthquake relative to the scale of Northridge or the more recent temblor in Olympia, Wash.

The 30-mile-long Portland Hills Fault is actually a complex “fault zone” containing multiple fractures which runs through Portland in a northwest-southeast direction. It is one of three large faults, including the East Bank Fault and the Oatfield Fault, that underlie the city, running parallel to each other about one and a half to two miles apart.

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