When Seattle shakes from quakes, it’s going to slide, too

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Posted December 20, 2013

With its coastal bluffs, roller coaster hills and soggy weather, Seattle is primed for landslides even when the ground isn’t shaking. Jolt the city with a major earthquake, and a new study from the University of Washington suggests many more slopes could collapse than previously estimated.

A powerful earthquake on the fault that slices under the city’s heart could trigger more than 30,000 landslides if it strikes when the ground is saturated, the analysis finds. More than 10,000 buildings, many of them upscale homes with water views, sit in areas at high risk of landslide damage in such a worst-case scenario.

“Our results indicate that landsliding triggered by a large Seattle fault earthquake will be extensive and potentially devastating,” says the report published this month in theBulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

Coming on top of widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure caused by the quake itself, landslides would compound the city’s problems and slow its recovery, said lead author Kate Allstadt, who recently earned her doctoral degree in seismology.

“I think the message is that we need to pay much more attention to these earthquake-induced landslides,” she said.

Read more at: Phys.org



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