Cascadia Lifelines Program

The Cascadia Lifelines Program conducts research that will allow Oregon’s lifeline providers to implement value- and cost-informed decisions to mitigate damage to Pacific Northwest infrastructure as the result of Cascadia subduction zone earthquakes.


Regular Members

Bonneville Power Administration
Northwest Natural Gas
Oregon Department of Transportation
Port of Portland
Portland General Electric

Associate Members

Eugene Water and Electric Board
Portland Water Bureau
Tualatin Valley Water District


Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center

“The expected earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone is going to be the single largest natural disaster ever to face the United States.”

Scott A. Ashford
Kearney Professor and Dean, College of Engineering


Early methods to mitigate seismic risks in Oregon were developed for short-duration earthquakes typical of those experienced in California. The inevitable Cascadia subduction zone earthquakes are expected to last much longer, similar to those seen in Chile and Japan in recent years.

Oregon’s infrastructure was built long before the state’s seismic risk was fully understood. When a major earthquake occurs, aging infrastructure will pose major challenges to all lifeline providers, including transportation departments, electric and gas utilities, water and wastewater utilities, fuel providers, and ports. The state will suffer a debilitating loss of mobility due to the shutdown of major highways. Thousands of Oregonians will lose their lives. Estimates of what it will take to begin mitigating the seismic risk reach into the billions of dollars. Unfortunately, current economic conditions and competing priorities are such that most lifeline providers do not have the resources to address the issues.

In line with its mission as a land grant institution, Oregon State University initiated the Cascadia Lifelines Program to help organizations come together and pool limited resources. The program will enable providers to capitalize on Oregon State’s earthquake research expertise and find solutions that will improve critical infrastructure performance so it can withstand major earthquake events.

“Through the Cascadia Lifelines Program and the commitment of our partners, we can build community resilience, and get our lifelines back up and running. Those lifelines are the key to saving lives, minimizing damage, and aiding in recovery of the region.””

Scott A. Ashford
Kearney Professor and Dean, College of Engineering