Portland, Ore. – There’s going to be a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on this morning near Downtown Portland. Researchers are going to simulate a fake quake. Portland State University is studying how loose soil, and oil underground, could be impacted by the “Big One.” Experts say a major earthquake could cause our natural fuel supply to spill into the Willamette and Columbia rivers, causing an environmental disaster and fuel shortage. That’s why researchers will be using a machine called T-REX to shake the ground in the city’s industrial area later this morning so they can measure changes in the soil.

Read more from PSU:

Portland has a liquefaction problem. The soil, thanks to the city’s proximity to the Columbia and Willamette rivers, is susceptible to liquefying during a large earthquake — such as a potential Cascadia quake — and is expected to cause widespread damage.

It just so happens that 90% of Oregon’s fuel supply is sitting on such unstable soil; thus the “big one” will likely cause oil to spill into the Willamette River, creating a huge environmental disaster and widespread fuel shortages. The fuel tanks are located at a 62-acre habitat restoration area owned by Portland General Electric in Northwest Portland known as Harborton.

An ongoing Portland State University study is testing a new treatment to prevent soil liquefaction during a massive earthquake using a 64,000-pound mobile shaker called T-Rex for an earthquake simulation. See T-Rex

On Thursday, the PSU research team will be using T-Rex and testing the soil treatment at Sunderland, a city-owned site in Northeast Portland near the Columbia River in the city’s industrial area. T-Rex — on loan from the University of Texas at Austin — will simulate an earthquake and measure changes in the soil as a result of the mitigation treatment. The media is invited to attend.