2 min read ⌚
“The Really Big One” is an earthquake that “will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when.”
About Kathryn Schulz
Kathryn Schulz is a Pulitzer-winner and The New Yorker staff writer.
Not long ago, scientists have discovered that there is a fault line in the Pacific ocean that has been the reason behind more than seven large-magnitude earthquakes in the past 35 centuries.
They found it while studying the “ghost forest” near Washington Coast, and came up with the conclusion that almost all trees suddenly died between 1699 and 1700 because they were inundated with salt water.
They believe that this fault line can and will trigger another massive earthquake followed by a tsunami by 2015 which will be “the worst natural disaster in the history of North America.”
The changes of this earthquake happening are one to three.
The Juan de Fuca oceanic plate is sliding underneath the North American tectonic plate in the zone that runs offshore from Northern California to Vancouver, Canada, otherwise known as the Cascadia subduction.
Scientists have reasons to believe that there will come a time when a “backstop” will cause the North American tectonic plate to “rebound like a spring.”
However, the rebound of even a small part of the subduction zone will cause an earthquake with a magnitude of as much as 8.6.
This earthquake could be compared to the 2011 disaster in Japan.
Can you imagine what will happen if the entire fault line opens up?
An earthquake with a magnitude up to 9.2.
But that is not all.
The rupture will cause the continental shelf beneath the ocean to ”drop by as much as six feet and rebound 30 to 100 feet to the west.”
This will trigger a tsunami that will endanger about 140,000 square miles along the Northwest coast of the Pacific.
Studying the potential effects of the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that it will kill more than 13 000 people, a number that can rise if the disaster happens during tourist season. It will also injure 27 000 and displace as much as a million other people.
The Pacific Northwest coast is particularly prone to be hit because of the lack of different seismic safeguards, such as an early warning system.
Key Lessons from “The Really Big One”
- The Discovery of the Fault Line
- A Possible Disaster
- Expected Victims
The Discovery of the Fault Line
Not long ago, while studying the “ghost forest” near Washington Coast, scientists have discovered that there is a fault line in the Pacific ocean that has been the reason behind more than seven large-magnitude earthquakes in the past 35 centuries.
A Possible Disaster
The rebound of even a small part of the subduction zone will cause an earthquake with a magnitude of as much as 8.6, while if the entire fault line opens up an earthquake with a magnitude up to 9.2 can be expected.
If it happens, this disaster will kill more than 13 000 people; it will injure 27 000 more, and displace as much as millions of others.
“The Really Big One” QuotesWe now know that the odds of the big Cascadia earthquake happening in the next fifty years are roughly one in three. Click To Tweet The odds of the very big one are roughly one in ten. Click To Tweet
The numbers do not fully reflect the danger – or, more to the point, how unprepared the Pacific Northwest is to face it. Click To Tweet
The gap between what we know and what we should do about it is getting bigger and bigger, and the action really needs to turn to responding. Otherwise, we’re going to be hammered. Click To Tweet
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