According to the article from Discover Magazine, there is significant evidence that North America is overdue for a giant earthquake along the Cascadia subduction zone west of Washington and Oregon in the Pacific Northwest. According to reporter Jerry Thompson, the enormous fault line has been calm for three centuries. However, despite it’s quiet nature, geologists have begun examining the fault line and its potential for destruction closer.
There are several pieces of evidence that show how disastrous the consequences of an earthquake along this fault line could be.Geologists and seismologists have been studying the evidence of past eruptions along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which runs from California to Vancouver Island. For example, there is what researchers are calling a “ghost forest” of dead trees along the Copalis River on the Washington coast. This ghost forest is a result of the destruction of the last time the Cascadia Subduction Zone quaked three hundred years ago. The fault line is capable of generating a “megathrust earthquake at or above magnitude 9” (Thompson, 2012). Researchers are saying that if a earthquake occurred stemming fom the Cascadia Subduction Zone, it would cause just as much devastation as the Tohoku earthquake that devastated Japan in 2011.
Researchers were in shock when the Tohoku quake hit Japan because the Japanese seismology team is one of the most advanced in the world. Researchers are predicting that the Tohoku earthquake will be comparable to an earthquake caused by the Cascadia Subduction Zone. As such, it is predicted that if the Pacific Northwests experiences such a quake, the consequences will be dire and will include 50 cycles of harmonic vibration, 37 felled bridges, untold civilian casualties, and city streets covered in broken glass and crumbled buildings. In all, a quake from the Cascadia Subduction Zone is a very real threat with catastrophic consequences.