The Big One

This Sunday morning was just like any other morning. My 1-year old woke up painfully early, and therefore so did I. This happens most mornings. The minute I hear her wails my heart sinks because all I want in the world is to be still blissfully sleeping, but then as I roll out of bed and picture her all red-faced and reaching for me, all I want in the world is to rescue her from her dark room and hold her close. I really can’t complain.

Now where was I. Oh yes, Sunday morning. It really was a normal morning. Yes normal, until my husband mentioned in passing that in the next few years the Pacific Northwest is supposed to erupt in a one of the worst earthquakes in history. Oh, and did I mention we live in the Pacific Northwest? Needless to say, my nice quiet Sunday morning had become far from “normal” as I imagined the earth crumbling beneath our house, and me wondering why on earth we hadn’t moved somewhere else before this killed us all.

So, after fruitlessly grilling my husband on all the details and facts (he hadn’t read too much about it), we began researching this impending earthquake. It turns out he was right.

In recent history researchers have discovered a fault line called the Cascadia subduction zone right above the San Andreas fault. This zone runs for 700 miles from somewhere off the California coast, all along Oregon and Washington, and ends around Vancouver Island BC. The “subduction” part refers to the region where the oceanic plate tectonic, Juan de Fuca, is sliding (subducting) underneath the North American plate tectonic (where I live). But instead of letting Juan de Fuca slide right underneath it, the Pacific Northwest is stuck against its surface, unable to budge. This is building up incredible amounts of pressure and causing a massive bulge upward and compression eastward of North America at a rate of 3-4 mm a year. That’s fast! And once this bulge erupts they predict that our home plate will drop 6 feet and that all along the edge from California to Canada will slide 30 to 100 feet to the west. I immediately pictured me and my baby Ember gripping the ground for dear life as it slid away at incredible speeds. How could we possibly survive?

They are predicting an 8.7-9.2 sized earthquake. I looked it up and that’s similar in size to Tohoku in Japan in 2011, which killed more than 18,000 people. I remember watching videos of that earthquake and tsunami and being horrified by the devastation and grief it caused.

Anyway, the cycle of “The Big One” (as it’s called) is, on average, every 243 years. The last occurrence was 315 years ago though, making us 73 years overdue for destruction. Alarming right? (Good, I’m glad I’m not the only one!)

Reading all of this, I was really honestly dismayed and immediately told Elliot that we should move within the year to escape the earthquake. I knew I was being a tiny bit paranoid, but I did and still do believe that this future earthquake is a reality and that we should take any precautions we can to avoid it. Elliot, however, reminded me that they really have no idea when or if it will happen, and that we can’t just move from our home to escape some possible catastrophe when there are possible catastrophes everywhere you turn.

So, I’ve decided to put “The Big One” out of my mind and to hope and trust God to take care of us.

Here’s a link if you’re as fascinated as I am and want to read up more on this: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/20/the-really-big-one.

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