In 1700, a magnitude 9 earthquake struck the northwest coast of America. Why did this earthquake happen? Could it happen again? When will the next one happen and how big will it be? To try and help answer some of these questions, I’m heading on a cruise in the Pacific Ocean to join a team of U.S. earth scientists working in the region.
A major battle line in Earth’s crust
Listening to crackles on the seabed
Over the next three weeks, I’ll be taking to the seas offshore of Oregon and California on Research Vessel Oceanus to collect seismometers that have been lying at the seabed for many months. These highly sensitive instruments will record any small vibrations in the ground caused by earthquakes. We hope to make some preliminary measurements from the recorded data to try and the nature of earthquakes in the region. Understanding the small earthquakes may be key to understanding the big one that happens in the future. We will also deploy further seismometers on the seabed. I’ll be part of a team led by Chief Scientists Anne Trehu from Oregon State University and Dean Livelybrooks from the University of Oregon. In total, over the three weeks, we have 45 ocean bottom seismometers to deploy and decommission, so we going to be working around the clock to stick to schedule.
I will try to keep you informed of our progress by using this blog and Google Maps I will also be regularly posting mini-updates to Twitter.