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RE: Cascadia tsunamis
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The 1700 Cascadia earthquake occurred in the Cascadia subduction zone on January 26, 1700.

 

 

MegaQuake Could Hit North America

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Cascadia earthquake 

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Pacific Northwest Cascadia Subduction 9.0 Earthquake

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Title: Turbidite Event History - Methods and Implications for Holocene Paleoseismicity of the Cascadia Subduction Zone
Authors: Chris Goldfinger, C. Hans Nelson, Ann E. Morey, Joel E. Johnson, Jason R. Patton, Eugene Karabanov, Julia Gutiérrez-Pastor, Andrew T. Eriksson, Euląlia Grącia, Gita Dunhill, Randolph J. Enkin, Audrey Dallimore, and Tracy Vallier

Turbidite systems along the continental margin of Cascadia Basin from Vancouver Island, Canada, to Cape Mendocino, California, United States, have been investigated with swath bathymetry; newly collected and archive piston, gravity, kasten, and box cores; and accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dates. The purpose of this study is to test the applicability of the Holocene turbidite record as a paleoseismic record for the Cascadia subduction zone. The Cascadia Basin is an ideal place to develop a turbidite paleoseismologic method and to record paleoearthquakes because (1) a single subduction-zone fault underlies the Cascadia submarine-canyon systems; (2) multiple tributary canyons and a variety of turbidite systems and sedimentary sources exist to use in tests of synchronous turbidite triggering; (3) the Cascadia trench is completely sediment filled, allowing channel systems to trend seaward across the abyssal plain, rather than merging in the trench; (4) the continental shelf is wide, favouring disconnection of Holocene river systems from their largely Pleistocene canyons; and (5) excellent stratigraphic datums, including the Mazama ash and distinguishable sedimentological and faunal changes near the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary, are present for correlating events and anchoring the temporal framework.
The average age of the oldest turbidite emplacement event in the 10-0-ka series is 9,800±~210 cal yr B.P. and the youngest is 270±~120 cal yr B.P., indistinguishable from the A.D. 1700 (250 cal yr B.P.) Cascadia earthquake. The northern events define a great earthquake recurrence of ~500 - 530 years. The recurrence times and averages are supported by the thickness of hemipelagic sediment deposited between turbidite beds. The southern Oregon and northern California margins represent at least three segments that include all of the northern ruptures, as well as ~22 thinner turbidites of restricted latitude range that are correlated between multiple sites. At least two northern California sites, Trinidad and Eel Canyon/pools, record additional turbidites, which may be a mix of earthquake and sedimentologically or storm-triggered events, particularly during the early Holocene when a close connection existed between these canyons and associated river systems.

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A comprehensive analysis of the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Northwest coast confirms that the region has had numerous earthquakes over the past 10,000 years, and suggests that the southern Oregon coast may be most vulnerable based on recurrence frequency.
Written by researchers at Oregon State University, and published online by the U.S. Geological Survey, the study concludes that there is a 40 percent chance of a major earthquake in the Coos Bay, Ore., region during the next 50 years. And that earthquake could approach the intensity of the Tohoku quake that devastated Japan in March of 2011.

"The southern margin of Cascadia has a much higher recurrence level for major earthquakes than the northern end and, frankly, it is overdue for a rupture. That doesn't mean that an earthquake couldn't strike first along the northern half, from Newport, Ore., to Vancouver Island. But major earthquakes tend to strike more frequently along the southern end - every 240 years or so - and it has been longer than that since it last happened. The probability for an earthquake on the southern part of the fault is more than double that of the northern end" - Chris Goldfinger, a professor in OSU's College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and lead author of the study.

The publication of the peer-reviewed analysis may do more than raise awareness of earthquake hazards and risks, experts say. The actuarial table and history of earthquake strength and frequency may eventually lead to an update in the state's building codes.
The Goldfinger-led study took four years to complete and is based on 13 years of research. At 184 pages, it is the most comprehensive overview ever written of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a region off the Northwest coast where the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is being subducted beneath the continent. Once thought to be a continuous fault line, Cascadia is now known to be at least partially segmented.

"Over the past 10,000 years, there have been 19 earthquakes that extended along most of the margin, stretching from southern Vancouver Island to the Oregon-California border. These would typically be of a magnitude from about 8.7 to 9.2 - really huge earthquakes. We've also determined that there have been 22 additional earthquakes that involved just the southern end of the fault. We are assuming that these are slightly smaller - more like 8.0 - but not necessarily. They were still very large earthquakes that if they happened today could have a devastating impact."

The last mega-earthquake to strike the Pacific Northwest occurred on Jan. 26, 1700. Researchers know this, Goldfinger said, because written records in Japan document how an ensuing tsunami destroyed that year's rice crop stored in warehouses.
How scientists document the earthquake history of the Cascadia Subduction Zone is fascinating. When a major offshore earthquake occurs, Goldfinger says, the disturbance causes mud and sand to begin streaming down the continental margins and into the undersea canyons. Coarse sediments called turbidites run out onto the abyssal plain; these sediments stand out distinctly from the fine particulate matter that accumulates on a regular basis between major tectonic events.
By dating the fine particles through carbon-14 analysis and other methods, Goldfinger and colleagues can estimate with a great deal of accuracy when major earthquakes have occurred over the past 10,000 years.
Going back further than 10,000 years has been difficult because the sea level used to be lower and West Coast rivers emptied directly into offshore canyons. Because of that, it is difficult to distinguish between storm debris and earthquake turbidites.

"The turbidite data matches up almost perfectly with the tsunami record that goes back about 3,500 years. Tsunamis don't always leave a signature, but those that do through coastal subsidence or marsh deposits coincide quite well with the earthquake history."

With the likelihood of a major earthquake and possible tsunami looming, coastal leaders and residents face the unenviable task of how to prepare for such events. Patrick Corcoran, a hazards outreach specialist with OSU's Sea Grant Extension program, says West Coast residents need to align their behavior with this kind of research.

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Seattle fault
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Ancient quake and tsunami in Puget Sound shake researchers

The last time the Seattle fault ripped, it jolted shorelines and unleashed a tsunami. Now a new study suggests that quake might have rocked an even bigger area than anyone thought.
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RE: Cascadia tsunamis
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A strong magnitude 6.4 earthquake occurred at 19:41:34 (UTC) on Friday, September 09, 2011, in the Vancouver Island region, 119 km WNW of Ucluelet, at a depth of 23 km.

Location     49.493°N, 126.967°W



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Tsunami "vertical evacuation" structure faces funding, logistical hurdles

It would cost twice as much and there's no precedent anywhere in the United States for how to fund such a structure. Everyone agrees it would save lives. There's not much doubt about that. And in light of the tragedy unfolding in Japan, it seems to make perfect sense.
It would be a new city hall, a very rugged building on concrete stilts. But it still hasn't been built.

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Puget Sound tsunamis
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Tsunami: Japan vs. Puget Sound



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US west coast at risk of "mega-quake"

The west coast of North America, the Lesser Antilles, Chile, Sumatra and Japan are all at risk from subduction zone "mega-quakes" in the near future according to Professor Bill McGuire of the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre.
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A magnitude 8 or greater earthquake has a one in three chance of hitting in the next 50 years.

America's Pacific Northwest has a 37% chance of being hit by a magnitude 8 or larger earthquake in the next 50 years, a new study shows. That's more than double previous estimates of a 10-15% risk, says Chris Goldfinger, a marine geologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis.
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Research gives glimpse of tectonic history on Puget Sound-region fault zones
For nearly two decades scientists have known about the Seattle fault and have been refining their understanding of the danger it presents to the Puget Sound region if it ruptures in a major earthquake.
They have seen evidence that a major quake, perhaps with a magnitude of 7 to 7.5, struck the fault more than a millennium ago and raised the south end of Bainbridge Island and Alki Point in West Seattle right out of the water. They know the quake triggered a tsunami on Puget Sound, and they have been able to track the fault zone east through Seattle and across Lake Washington.

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