Getting Ready for the Big One

Pacific Northwest Seismic Network

Puget Sound Seismic Network sensors actively monitor tremors throughout the Pacific Northwest. (Puget Sound Seismic Network)

My advice? Relax, build a long-term-shaking-and-tsunami-resilient society, and play it as it lies.
John Vidale2016

The University of Washington installed its first seismograph in 1907, and local newspapers breathlessly reported every tremor recorded by the instrument. Later reports were announced on TV. Now they come via the Web. Earthquakes are big news here. Today, Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) gathers data from 400 widely dispersed seismometers, and feeds it for analysis to the Seismology Lab in the UW Department of Earth and Space Sciences.

Photograph of Seattle after an earthquake
Beast quake that set of PNSN monitors around the stadium (

Beast quake that set of PNSN monitors around the stadium (

PNSN was established in 1969, prompted by Washington’s 1965 magnitude 6.7 earthquake. Led by the UW with partners throughout the Pacific Northwest, PNSN monitors and interprets widespread volcanic activity and plate tectonic movement–as well as localized phenomena like Marshawn Lynch’s Beastquake in 2011, generated by fans at Qwest Field.

PNSN is innovative partnership in action, bringing together scientists from universities and federal agencies to study volcanic and seismic activity, earthquake waves, and earth liquefaction during shaking. UW seismologists have led the field in presenting science to the general public, widely sharing their findings in popular magazines, through social media, and on the web. Armed with the latest scientific information from PNSN, government and civic leaders are reducing risk through building retrofits and early warning networks here in “earthquake country.”

Shake Alert in Action

Further Reading

UW Seismology 1948 (PDF)
Vicky Draham reports 12/19/1948 on PNW earthauake potential and
development or UW seismology department – within a year, the region
experienced a 7.1 magnitude quake.
Seattle Times

UW Orders First Seismograph! (PDF)
When the UW ordered its first seismograph, the event was front page news, 6/13/1907.
Seattle Times

Additional Resources