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Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center

Coastal and Marine Earthquake Studies

Western Coastal and Marine Earthquake Studies.


SHIPS: Seismic Hazards Investigation in Puget Sound

A U.S./Canadian Consortium funded entirely by the U.S. Geological Survey to provide public information for mitigating a potential earthquake disaster in the Pacific Northwest

SHIPS is an ongoing study, involving Wet SHIPS (the 1998 information presented in these pages), Dry SHIPS (Sept. 1999), and Kingdome SHIPS (March 2000), as well as other SHIPS projects (Seattle SHIPS 2002, Bellingham SHIPS 2002; plus more on Dry SHIPS and Kingdome SHIPS).

In March, 1998, the SHIPS consortium collected seismic data in Puget Sound, the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and the Straits of Georgia to investigate the regional earthquake hazard.

Why? Because geologic evidence for past devastating quakes is clear, and critical information is lacking on which urban areas are at particular risk during a major quake. Prime questions to be answered include: where are faults that could cause major quakes, and where does the type of near-surface sediment exacerbate the shaking hazard?

Environmental issues related to seismic surveying in Puget Sound center on the potential adverse impact of airgun noise on marine mammals and threatened bird species. On the basis of acoustic modeling, we believe that the survey can be conducted without injury to marine life. Permits were obtained from regulatory agencies to assure compliance with environmental law. Biologists observed operations to ensure the safety of marine mammals.

This project involved nine research organizations, two scientific research ships, two large boats, an airplane, a network of hundreds of temporary seismometers, and numerous scientific researchers and technicians.

View images of our work.

For additional information please visit SHIPS home page.

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Content Last Modified: 5 June 1998
Links Updated: 3 May 2012