Pilot Staff Report

A 4.5-magnitude earthquake 37 miles west of Brookings in the Pacific Ocean struck at about noon Thursday, although few people reported feeling anything. A 3.1-magnitude one struck later, twice as far out in the ocean southwest of Newport.

No tsunami warning was issued.

The Cascadia Fault lies just off the coast, where two plates are slowly grinding under and over one another. The last time the fault “ripped” was 317 years ago. In that time, pressure at the juncture of the Pacific and Continental plates has increased, portending a massive quake at some unknown time in the future.

Scientists say a 9.0-magnitude quake would devastate the entire coastline of Northern California, Oregon, Washington and lower British Columbia, along which the Cascadia Fault lies. Major infrastructure — roads, bridges, water and electricity — would likely not be replaced for months, if not years, in Curry County, as emergency funds would be spent on the large ports and cities such as Portland and Seattle.

Damage could extend as far east as the Interstate 5 corridor in the Rogue River Valley.