Tsunami dock piece to be dedicated March 10

Cleaning the tsunami dock (Photo: OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center)NEWPORT – A new tsunami awareness exhibit, featuring a piece of the massive Japanese dock that washed ashore at Agate beach last year, will be dedicated at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in a public ceremony and grand opening on Sunday, March 10.

The public ceremony, which runs from 2-4 pm,  marks the two-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit northern Japan. Sponsors include Oregon Sea Grant, the HMSC and the City of Newport.

The dock was among the first – and largest – fragments of debris to wash up on Pacific Northwest shores more than a year after the magnitude 9.03 undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan on March 11, 2011. The dock’s arrival on Agate Beach last June, sparked concern over the potential spread of non-native plants and marine animals, thousands of which were found alive and clinging to the dock.

Teams of state Parks and Recreation workers, scientists and volunteers scoured the dock’s surface and scorched it with blow-torches to destroy the organisms – and also collected specimens for identification and analysis by researchers at the HMSC.

The dock, roughly the size of a railroad boxcar and weighing tons, was sawn into pieces for disposal, and one section was saved to be placed at the Hatfield Center as a memorial to the Japanese disaster – and to aid in educating visitors about the risks of similar tsunamis generated by subduction zone quakes off the Oregon coast.  On initial delivery, however, the concrete-and-steel segment was discovered to be too big for its site, and was hauled to the Port of Newport docks to be recut to fit the space.

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