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Hold Onto Your Butts! It's World Earthquake Drill Day

Here's all the earthquake news you might've missed this year.
October 20, 2016, 2:00pm

Don't panic if you see people hiding in door frames tomorrow—there's an international earthquake drill set for Thursday.

Half of the U.S. live along earthquake-prone fault lines, and more people could experience an earthquake while traveling, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Oklahoma earthquake in 2011. Image: USGS

Given that this is such a common experience, here's a roundup of some of the biggest news in recent earthquake news.

  • Probably the biggest news in earthquake reporting last year was the viral New Yorker article, "The Really Big One", that went into deep geological detail what impacts a predicted mega earthquake would have to the Pacific Northwest. A massive 9.0 earthquake is anticipated to strike the area every couple of hundred years, and the West Coast is overdue.

  • To prepare for "The Big One," Canada and U.S. researchers ran the largest earthquake simulation ever. Since the Pacific Northwest is expecting a 9.0 earthquake at any point, and simulations can show which areas might experience the worst of the shaking. It can also point out areas that could be affected by tsunamis. Consider it like the world's most depressing video game, but it's being run for a good purpose.

  • On the plus side, there may be the potential to store some of the energy from powerful earthquakes to power our homes and businesses. With the need for renewable electricity growing, one researcher is looking at the possibility.

  • Archivist, researcher and writer Adam Rothstein took this research one step farther and gave his depiction of what Portland and surrounding areas would look like and what resources it would need after a large-scale earthquake. But how do you get people to read a longform research project? Write it as a sci-fi novel.

  • Research into early warning systems have been a hot topic this year since earthquakes are notoriously difficult to predict. Some researchers are working on building an app, MyShake, to alert residents about earthquakes a few minutes ahead of time. The Android app uses the phone's accelerometer to alert the user of an earthquake when the tremors are still too small for them to feel.

  • Two well-known California fault lines, the Hayward and Rogers Creek Fault, were found to be connected, which could spell trouble for the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • Scientists discovered that not only does California have tremors deeper than they expected, but high tides increase the risk of big earthquakes, as do tiny earthquakes.

  • But California isn't the only place experiencing earthquakes. Oklahoma had its most powerful earthquake in the state's history this September when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit. Some research has tied fracking for fossil fuels in Oklahoma to earthquakes.

With all that, now might be a good time to practice that duck, cover and hold on strategy. Might not be a bad idea to check on your earthquake insurance, too. Stay safe, y'all!

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