`The Big One'

THE DALLES -- Earthquakes shake the very foundation of the Pacific Northwest. A sudden movement of the Pacific seafloor 32 miles (52 kilometers) beneath south Puget Sound sends shock waves racing in all directions through our planet. It took only 40 seconds of surface vibration to cause 400 injuries and $2 billion in damages in western Washington and Oregon -- a stark reminder from the Earth of the primeval geologic motion that created the Pacific Northwest.

"The Big One: Earthquakes of the Pacific Northwest," a traveling exhibit designed by the Burke Museum of Natural and Cultural History/University of Washington will open Feb. 28 at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center.

In everyday language and through graphics, photos, text and two hands-on models, visitors will discover how earthquakes work, the types of earthquakes common to the Pacific Northwest, and how scientists use seismographs to record, measure, and interpret the earth movements.

Elementary and middle school classrooms will have the opportunity to check out earthquake study kits, which are designed with activities to enhance the students' experience and help them meet state learning requirements in earth sciences.

"It's guaranteed people will leave with a better understanding of earthquakes and how to prepare for them," said Patty Garland, Curator of Exhibits and Education at the Center.Accompanying the exhibit, Dr. Cathy Townsend, Regional Senior Geologist will host Earthquakes, Mountains, and the Geologic History of Washington through the Visiting Scientist Program. In a vivid slide show, Dr. Townsend places current earthquakes and geologic events into a geologic time scale, showing that the most fundamental aspects of our natural history have been at work building the Pacific Northwest for over a billion years. Presentations will be held Saturday, March 2 at 11 a.m. at the Discovery Center and at 1:30 p.m. at the Skylight Theatre in Hood River.

The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center will host emergency survival forums, March 7. The afternoon session will focus on Business Emergency Survival from 1-4 p.m. Homeowner Emergency Survival is the focus for the evening session, from 7-9 p.m. This one-day event will educate the public about earthquake and emergency preparedness. The Forum is sponsored by Cascadia Research Earthquake Workgroup, Wasco County Emergency Manager's Office, and the Discovery Center. For more information on upcoming exhibits, please contact the Center at 541-296-8600.

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