Author Topic: The Really Big One  (Read 18908 times)

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Offline daftandbarmy

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The Really Big One
« on: July 13, 2015, 16:42:48 »
So, how are we doing with respect to earthquake preparedness CF-wise?



The Really Big One

An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.

When the 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck Tohoku, Japan, Chris Goldfinger was two hundred miles away, in the city of Kashiwa, at an international meeting on seismology. As the shaking started, everyone in the room began to laugh. Earthquakes are common in Japan—that one was the third of the week—and the participants were, after all, at a seismology conference. Then everyone in the room checked the time.
Seismologists know that how long an earthquake lasts is a decent proxy for its magnitude. The 1989 earthquake in Loma Prieta, California, which killed sixty-three people and caused six billion dollars’ worth of damage, lasted about fifteen seconds and had a magnitude of 6.9. A thirty-second earthquake generally has a magnitude in the mid-sevens. A minute-long quake is in the high sevens, a two-minute quake has entered the eights, and a three-minute quake is in the high eights. By four minutes, an earthquake has hit magnitude 9.0.
When Goldfinger looked at his watch, it was quarter to three. The conference was wrapping up for the day. He was thinking about sushi. The speaker at the lectern was wondering if he should carry on with his talk. The earthquake was not particularly strong. Then it ticked past the sixty-second mark, making it longer than the others that week. The shaking intensified. The seats in the conference room were small plastic desks with wheels. Goldfinger, who is tall and solidly built, thought, No way am I crouching under one of those for cover. At a minute and a half, everyone in the room got up and went outside.
It was March. There was a chill in the air, and snow flurries, but no snow on the ground. Nor, from the feel of it, was there ground on the ground. The earth snapped and popped and rippled. It was, Goldfinger thought, like driving through rocky terrain in a vehicle with no shocks, if both the vehicle and the terrain were also on a raft in high seas. The quake passed the two-minute mark. The trees, still hung with the previous autumn’s dead leaves, were making a strange rattling sound. The flagpole atop the building he and his colleagues had just vacated was whipping through an arc of forty degrees. The building itself was base-isolated, a seismic-safety technology in which the body of a structure rests on movable bearings rather than directly on its foundation. Goldfinger lurched over to take a look. The base was lurching, too, back and forth a foot at a time, digging a trench in the yard. He thought better of it, and lurched away. His watch swept past the three-minute mark and kept going.
Oh, crap, Goldfinger thought, although not in dread, at first: in amazement. For decades, seismologists had believed that Japan could not experience an earthquake stronger than magnitude 8.4. In 2005, however, at a conference in Hokudan, a Japanese geologist named Yasutaka Ikeda had argued that the nation should expect a magnitude 9.0 in the near future—with catastrophic consequences, because Japan’s famous earthquake-and-tsunami preparedness, including the height of its sea walls, was based on incorrect science. The presentation was met with polite applause and thereafter largely ignored. Now, Goldfinger realized as the shaking hit the four-minute mark, the planet was proving the Japanese Cassandra right.
For a moment, that was pretty cool: a real-time revolution in earthquake science. Almost immediately, though, it became extremely uncool, because Goldfinger and every other seismologist standing outside in Kashiwa knew what was coming. One of them pulled out a cell phone and started streaming videos from the Japanese broadcasting station NHK, shot by helicopters that had flown out to sea soon after the shaking started. Thirty minutes after Goldfinger first stepped outside, he watched the tsunami roll in, in real time, on a two-inch screen.
In the end, the magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed more than eighteen thousand people, devastated northeast Japan, triggered the meltdown at the Fukushima power plant, and cost an estimated two hundred and twenty billion dollars. The shaking earlier in the week turned out to be the foreshocks of the largest earthquake in the nation’s recorded history. But for Chris Goldfinger, a paleoseismologist at Oregon State University and one of the world’s leading experts on a little-known fault line, the main quake was itself a kind of foreshock: a preview of another earthquake still to come.
Most people in the United States know just one fault line by name: the San Andreas, which runs nearly the length of California and is perpetually rumored to be on the verge of unleashing “the big one.” That rumor is misleading, no matter what the San Andreas ever does. Every fault line has an upper limit to its potency, determined by its length and width, and by how far it can slip. For the San Andreas, one of the most extensively studied and best understood fault lines in the world, that upper limit is roughly an 8.2—a powerful earthquake, but, because the Richter scale is logarithmic, only six per cent as strong as the 2011 event in Japan.
Just north of the San Andreas, however, lies another fault line. Known as the Cascadia subduction zone, it runs for seven hundred miles off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, beginning near Cape Mendocino, California, continuing along Oregon and Washington, and terminating around Vancouver Island, Canada. The “Cascadia” part of its name comes from the Cascade Range, a chain of volcanic mountains that follow the same course a hundred or so miles inland. The “subduction zone” part refers to a region of the planet where one tectonic plate is sliding underneath (subducting) another. Tectonic plates are those slabs of mantle and crust that, in their epochs-long drift, rearrange the earth’s continents and oceans. Most of the time, their movement is slow, harmless, and all but undetectable. Occasionally, at the borders where they meet, it is not.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/20/the-really-big-one?mbid=social_facebook
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Online Old Sweat

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2015, 16:55:13 »
A couple of years before I retired, I was in the Land Plans shop in J3 Plans. Every few weeks I would trundle off to a earthquake preparedness meeting at Emergency Preparedness Canada. This organization, which had grandiose dreams of becoming a wing of the PCO, was populated with the greatest collection of incompetents and bumblers I had ever seen. They also were outright contemptuous of DND and the CF. One of their mantras was that the Canadian people would never accept troops in uniform in formed bodies doing disaster relief. (This was before the Red River flood, the ice storm and various forest fires.) Their solution was to use the forces in civvies as a manpower pool under their direction. One of their major areas of concern was to ensure air photos were taken of the prisons in the lower mainland after the earthquake to see if the prisoners had escaped, thereby confirming their dubious grip on reality.

They finally managed to annoy enough people in power to loose their independent status and were put under Bob Fowler at DND. I don't know if things have improved, but if I were you, I would prepare for a survivalist life style.

Offline mariomike

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2015, 17:12:51 »
"An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest."

So, how are we doing with respect to earthquake preparedness CF-wise?

I don't know about CF-wise, but ( since this is the Emergency Services forum ), if it's out west, I imagine they would send HU-SAR Task Force One, based out of Vancouver:
http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/rbn-srch-rsc/index-eng.aspx
« Last Edit: July 13, 2015, 17:17:46 by mariomike »

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2015, 17:23:36 »
"An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest."

I don't know about CF-wise, but ( since this is the Emergency Services forum ), if it's out west, I imagine they would send HU-SAR Task Force One, based out of Vancouver:
http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/rbn-srch-rsc/index-eng.aspx

Seems reasonable.  Why wouldn't you put your earthquake response team right  on top of the subduction/liquefaction/tsunami zone? 

See, me, not being a professional and all, might have convinced to put it in a safe area. Like Edmonton.
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Offline mariomike

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2015, 17:26:40 »
See, me, not being a professional and all, might have convinced to put it in a safe area. Like Edmonton.

If TF-1 gets wiped out, they can respond TF-2 based out of Calgary:
http://www.cantf2.com/#about

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2015, 17:30:07 »
See the trouble sarcasm can get you into? 

Thanks MM.

On the other hand I learned stuff.
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Offline mariomike

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2015, 17:31:08 »
 :)

Offline Underway

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2015, 17:36:21 »
So, how are we doing with respect to earthquake preparedness CF-wise?

When I was a PAT in 2001 I got to be a casualty for the Base Ops response team training for an earthquake in Esquimalt.  Beside every parking lot and parade square there were large sea cans with a big E on the side of them.  They were the muster point for earthquakes and the sea cans contained a large amount of equipment ranging from portable toilets, generators, water, hard hats, and body bags.  There were teams from different buildings who were trained in light urban rescue.  Haven't been to the west coast in a while but last time I was there the E boxes still existed.

Interestingly enough the Rattle in Seattle happened during my time there.  And the base responded...meh  ok.  Even us in Base Ops thought it was a loud truck backing up for a couple seconds and then it was over.  That caused a review of the earthquake response with all the major players in BC.  Victoria was going to be aided by rescue teams from the mainland who would launch from the main ferry terminal.  They neglected to realize that was only if Vancouver wasn't hit and that the ferry terminal would be above water (which it won't as its built on fill which would liquidize fairly quickly).  But the military guys pointed that out to them....truth to power and all that.... 

As for the rest of the country responding if the big one comes...well, Vancouver is under water.  Geological evidence suggests that Vancouver was hit by a huge tsunami.  The first nations who lived there when Europeans showed up did not live in certain areas of the river basin because of the taboo (and legends that the water would come back).  A disaster of that magnitude would stretch the resources of the entire country. 

However our equipment is far better for disaster relief of Vancouver now than it was back then.  We have new Chinooks, SuperHercs, C-17's all for lift.  That's critical to get supplies and equipment in to clear up ports and airfields to start the relief effort.  Heavy Urban Rescue is a provincial responsibility now IIRC so the best the military can do is DART, medical support, emergency infrastructure and able bodies who want to help.

But if the big one comes, no one is ready, we'll have to make due as best we can.  How the hell can you really be ready for that kind of disaster?
« Last Edit: July 13, 2015, 18:13:26 by Underway »

Offline mariomike

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2015, 17:53:30 »
Heavy Urban Rescue is a provincial responsibility now IIRC < snip >

Two of Canada's four HUSAR teams are municipal ( Vancouver and Toronto. ) CAN-TF2 ( Alberta ) and CAN-TF4 ( Manitoba ) are operated by provinces.
CAN-TF5 ( Atlantic ) no longer exists. ( Not sure if it ever really did? ) They have reverted to a purely regional role under the mandate of Halifax Emergency Services.
Only four ( Vancouver, Alberta, Manitoba and Toronto ) of  the planned eight HUSAR teams were successfully established.

"CAN-TF3 is a joint unit of Toronto Fire Services, Toronto Police Service and Toronto Paramedic Services created to deal with search and rescue operations in the City of Toronto. The unit can respond to situations outside of the city, and offer provincial, national, as well as international assistance."
http://torontoparamedicservices.ca/special-units-teams/heavy-urban-search-and-rescue/

HUSAR in detail:
http://web.archive.org/web/20131021071314/http://www.toronto.ca/wes/techservices/oem/husar/pdf/husar-history-tema-structure-and-training-profile.pdf


« Last Edit: July 13, 2015, 20:01:07 by mariomike »

Offline cupper

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2015, 19:33:03 »
Smart money would be to start buying up ocean front property in the mountains. Even if the big one doesn't come, global warming with get there soon enough. >:D
It's hard to win an argument against a smart person, it's damned near impossible against a stupid person.

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Offline quadrapiper

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2015, 21:42:29 »
...who would launch from the main ferry terminal.  They neglected to realize that was only if Vancouver wasn't hit and that the ferry terminal would be above water (which it won't as its built on fill which would liquidize fairly quickly).
Civil defense role for the beach-capable Ro-Ro commercial hulls that you see out here?

Or suggestive of a need for developing/buying/trialling some sort of insta-ramp capability, sufficient at least to bridge out to some of the smaller ferries? Ignore that last if that's already in the Engineering toolkit.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2015, 02:22:57 »
We'll likely need earthquake proofed hospitals, at least, to help deal with the thousands of casualties.

oops... we don't have any  ::)
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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2015, 08:22:30 »
We'll likely need earthquake proofed hospitals, at least, to help deal with the thousands of casualties.

oops... we don't have any  ::)

More like ones built on pontoons, since the Vic General and the Jube will be under water if a tsunami hit...as well as a lot of the lower mainland ones around Vancouver.

MM
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Offline Staff Weenie

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2015, 08:37:20 »
About a decade ago, I was part of a month long planning team that used a CONPLAN as the basis to wargame one of Canada's Force Planning Scenarios.  We used a worst case scenario, and the most accurate data we could get from Geophysicists. The prediction was catastrophic (I did say worst case scenario) - most of Richmond under ~3' or more of water.  The airport gone, ferry terminal gone, and rail and road links to the east severed by rock slides.  The Kitsilano dam ruptures, the fuel tank farm in the harbour will fail, and burn, and there will also be fires, toxic releases, etc.  Most hospitals will sustain moderate to major damage, depending on the degree of upgrading they've done.  The bridges had a chance of holding up due to their upgrading. Casualty estimates in the 1,000's for the dead, and 60,000 or more wounded.  Now....get everything we can spare together, and get it into an isolated city.....

Offline George Wallace

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2015, 08:41:53 »
About a decade ago, I was part of a month long planning team that used a CONPLAN as the basis to wargame one of Canada's Force Planning Scenarios.  We used a worst case scenario, and the most accurate data we could get from Geophysicists. The prediction was catastrophic (I did say worst case scenario) - most of Richmond under ~3' or more of water.  The airport gone, ferry terminal gone, and rail and road links to the east severed by rock slides.  The Kitsilano dam ruptures, the fuel tank farm in the harbour will fail, and burn, and there will also be fires, toxic releases, etc.  Most hospitals will sustain moderate to major damage, depending on the degree of upgrading they've done.  The bridges had a chance of holding up due to their upgrading. Casualty estimates in the 1,000's for the dead, and 60,000 or more wounded.  Now....get everything we can spare together, and get it into an isolated city.....

No airport, No C-17s.  How long would it take today's complete fleet of Chinooks to fly cross country to assist?  You picked a doozie of a scenario, even for today.
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Offline Staff Weenie

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2015, 08:48:27 »
The projections showed that Esquimalt had a reasonable chance of remaining functional, as did the Victoria airport.  Our option was to fly everything in to Victoria, commandeer anything that could float, and head for Vancouver.

I had a great laugh over the DS direction that the Fd Hosp (and in fact all HSS) was there to support the CAF capability only.  I told them to visualize setting up a Fd Hosp in a large flat area, putting a big Red Cross on the top, and then turning away injured Canadian citizens in need.....how long would it be before the riots began?

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2015, 10:24:42 »
More like ones built on pontoons, since the Vic General and the Jube will be under water if a tsunami hit...as well as a lot of the lower mainland ones around Vancouver.

MM

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Offline Ostrozac

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2015, 11:36:23 »
Well, in the event that Canada's third largest city is basically destroyed, it seems like a pretty good time to start calling allies. Is Lewis-McChord in Washington likely to be outside of the earthquake affected area? I Corps has Blackhawks and Chinooks, and they are closer to Vancouver than Edmonton or Petawawa. Or is the "Big One" in the lower mainland likely to also be the "Big One" along the entire US pacific coast, therefore tying up any potential US assistance? My knowledge of plate tectonics is limited.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2015, 12:00:23 »
Well, in the event that Canada's third largest city is basically destroyed, it seems like a pretty good time to start calling allies. Is Lewis-McChord in Washington likely to be outside of the earthquake affected area? I Corps has Blackhawks and Chinooks, and they are closer to Vancouver than Edmonton or Petawawa. Or is the "Big One" in the lower mainland likely to also be the "Big One" along the entire US pacific coast, therefore tying up any potential US assistance? My knowledge of plate tectonics is limited.

It depends, of course, but everyone in this area is likely to be dead, injured or a refugee of some kind if the 'really big one' hits. The best solution is to develop strong inter-community sustainment networks and, of course, these are either hopelessly inadequate or non-existent in la la Land.

That reminds me, I'd better stock up on razor wire and hazmat tape  ;D
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Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2015, 12:04:38 »
If Vancouver gets its "big one", it won't necessarily be the "big one" all the way down the US coast to Mexico. However, the plate involved does include all of Washington state coastal area and all the way down to Portland Oregon. So Portland - some damage - Seattle, Tacoma and most smaller places in Washington state - serious damage - but none as bas a Vancouver because, unlike Vancouver, these towns are not built over silt deposit from the Fraser river delta. The Americans will take care of their own first.


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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2015, 13:29:15 »
More like ones built on pontoons, since the Vic General and the Jube will be under water if a tsunami hit...as well as a lot of the lower mainland ones around Vancouver.

MM

Studies say that the threat of a Tsunami for Victoria/Vancouver are quite low.
http://www.sfu.ca/cnhr/papers/Clague%20et%20al.%20Natural%20Hazards%202003.pdf


Offline Underway

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2015, 13:34:29 »
No airport, No C-17s.  How long would it take today's complete fleet of Chinooks to fly cross country to assist?  You picked a doozie of a scenario, even for today.

Don't need an airstrip.  Just need a clear highway.  There will be plenty of places in BC that can act as a staging area around Vancouver that probably wouldn't be hit as hard.  It's not like the C-17 needs a perfect place to land.

Offline dapaterson

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #22 on: July 14, 2015, 13:53:43 »
Except the carbon footprint of such an aircraft is huge, and the left coast won't let a little thing like a massive humanitarian disaster dissuade them from their left coast mentality.   :P
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Offline Bearpaw

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2015, 14:37:36 »

The only historical earthquake that might be used as a model for the
"Big One" is the 1960 magnitude 9.5 quake in Chile.  Our "Big One" is
likely to be in the 9.0 to 9.8 range.  An American scientist has done excellent
work in studies of past quakes on the Washington-BC coasts in particular the
effects of the resulting tsunami---there was a recent documentary about this on TV.

The real unknown in this is where the rock rupture takes place---this has huge consequences for
the p-wave, s-wave structure of the quake----the worst building damage takes place from the
s-wave shaking----the p-wave damage could be severe if the break-zone is almost directly under Vancouver.
s-wave shaking is from side to side and forward and backward (shear wave)
p-wave shaking is up and down(pressure wave).

Vancouver Airport will be totally destroyed and probably flooded as well.  Richmond, Delta,
UBC, .... will be severely or totally destroyed by ground fluidization.

All bridges on the Fraser River to Mission will likely be not useable or destroyed---hopefully the
Mission bridge will survive----the Bridal Falls bridge is likely to survive.

All highways leading in to Hope will have several rock-slides blocking them---count on 2 weeks to clear.
The railways in Fraser Canyon likely have several blockages by rock-slides as well---these may be quicker
to clear.

Abbotsford International Airport should have some runway damage---this is the only C-17 capable runway
in the lower mainland that is likely to be in near-operable state after the quake.

What I would recommend for positioned equipment and materials at Abbotsford airport would be

0) equipment to repair runways,...
1) 3 or 4 fully equipped field hospitals
2) 10 mobile ROWPU and associated equipment filters,...
3) lots of pharmaceuticals, body-bags
4) at least 5,000,000 L of fuel for helicopters, diesels,... in
   tanks at most 250,000L
5) at least 100 10-ton trucks with trailers
6) bridging equipment sufficient for 2 crossings of Fraser
7) loaders, bulldozers
8) tents, food,... for at least a brigade or responders

I would also have several LCM stationed somewhere on the coast.

For planning purposes, one should be thinking of 5 to 10 times the damage in Haiti---the needs
will be similar except for scale.

The US is likely to be tied up with their own severe problems---Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham,...
Portland---their situation could well be worse than Vancouver and Victoria.

Bearpaw (from Surrey BC)

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: The Really Big One
« Reply #24 on: July 14, 2015, 14:40:31 »
Bearpaw (from Surrey BC)

Good point: we should build a wall around Surrey now to contain all the looters after the quake ;D
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