50 Ways an Earthquake Could Shatter—or Spare—These Major Northwest Cities
Simulations of the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Northwest coast yielded surprises for geologists studying the region’s quake risk.
One of the world’s most dangerous earthquake faults lies just 50 miles off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. To find out what might happen when the next big one hits, scientists simulated 50 different magnitude 9 earthquakes, and their work yielded a surprising result: Cities actually fared better when they were closer to the earthquake’s starting point.
The Cascadia Subduction Zone stretches more than 600 miles, from Cape Mendocino in northern California to Vancouver Island in Canada. There, along a giant rift in Earth’s crust, the Pacific’s sea floor sinks beneath the lighter North American tectonic plate.
Geological evidence shows that the fault has loosed a magnitude 9 earthquake at least 20 times over the last ten thousand years, along