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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

Readiness. Response. Recovery.

Phone: 503-823-4375

Fax: 503-823-3903

TDD: 503-823-3947

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Scientific and humanitarian lessons from the Haiti and Japan earthquakes

The January 2010 earthquake in Haiti was not particularly large. Magnitude 7 events happen dozens of times a year around the world. But this one killed a near-record number of people. What did scientists and the public know or not know about earthquake hazards in Haiti? Scientists knew that the area was likely to experience an earthquake of this size, but because such earthquakes had not occurred in Haiti for the past 240 years, public awareness was negligible. Building codes were non-existent, resulting in huge losses of life. On the other hand, the massive earthquake in Japan in March 2011 resulted in fewer deaths, while its tsunami wreaked widespread devastation. 

At a recent installment of OMSI's Science Pub at the Mission Theater, audience members listened to Dr. Wayne D. Pennington explain the scientific aspects of both the Haiti and Japan earthquakes, including ongoing and future risks and implications for the United States, and an overview of the relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti. [more]