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But Wait, What Exactly Are the Chances Portland Could Be Destroyed by a Volcano?

An article in Forbes compared Portland to Pompeii. We asked an expert: How literal should we take that?

WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.


As you may have heard, Portland is doomed.

In an article published last week in Forbes, a Lake Oswego-based economist proposed that the city is slowly dying, suffocating under the weight of crime, high housing costs and access to inexpensive tents. In order to make his point—that cities can indeed die—the writer cites once-thriving societies that were wiped off the map for one reason or another, including Pompeii, which was famously destroyed by a volcanic eruption in the year 79 AD.

Of course, the author wasn't suggesting a literal volcano will take out Portland—he's much more concerned about protesters breaking windows.

But then again: How far-fetched is it, really? After all, we've been just downwind from a pretty famous eruption ourselves in the past. And we live in the shadow of another active peak: Mt. Hood.

So we went to an expert, Jon Major of the Cascade Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Wash., to figure out what the chances are that the actual death of Portland will come from an unstoppable river of magma.

See more Distant Voices interviews here.