Cascadia, earthquakes and Catalonia

This excellent piece from the New Yorker slipped under my radar when it was published (so you may already have read it). It covers the worrying evidence that the US Pacific coast from northern California to Vancouver Island, an area not known for its seismic activity, is actually at risk of a massive and devastating earthquake. The Cascadia subduction apparently poses much more of a risk than the more famous San Andreas fault.

This, coupled with last month’s tragic earthquake in Amatrice, led me to look up the seismic potential in Catalonia. Surely being so close to a ‘young’ mountain range like the Pyrenees indicates we’re at risk from earthquakes? The answer is: no. The Generalitat’s report into Catalonia’s seismicity found that while there have been a number of quakes in the Garrotxa region (its volcanoes last erupted 10,000 years ago), Catalonia’s a stable area. The Basque end of the Pyrenees is far more prone to tremors.


In deepest, darkest #Catalonia #valldellemena #rocacorba

A photo posted by Tom Clarke (@tombcn) on

We went to la Garrotxa at the weekend, celebrating ten years of marriage. We stayed in the Vall de Llèmena, just to the south. Llèmena is a real hidden gem – gorgeous forested landscapes and very little human interference. Much as I love the neighboring Empordà region, Llèmena has a lot going for it.

2 thoughts on “Cascadia, earthquakes and Catalonia

  1. Congrats and I will look up valley of the lemmings.

    Guides following my templates probably still attribute wonky walls in several Barcelona buildings to the 1428 quake, but I wonder whether that’s not folklore, born perhaps of builders seeking force majeure excuses.

    1. Thanks!

      I think that’s accurate. The church at Santa Pau in la Garrotxa was also destroyed. Which is not to say that shoddy maçons didn’t also contribute to buildings not responding well. 1428 does seem to be the worst recorded earthquake here.

      We experienced an earthquake of about 8-10 seconds while on honeymoon in Thailand, funnily enough (no jokes, please). We were in a hut by the sea and it was less than 2 years since the great tsunami. The whole place shook and I couldn’t get to sleep for the rest of the night, terrified that we’d be swept away.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.