The north-west coast of the U.S. could be devastated by a huge movement of undersea plates known as a ‘megathrust’ earthquake, scientists say.
A review of the dangers posed by the Juan de Fuca plate released in the wake of the Japanese quake has raised fears that the Pacific seaboard could be similarly ravaged.
The horrifying possibilities have been brought to light by data researched by the Active Tectonics and Seafloor Mapping Laboratory at Oregon State University.
Cascadia, which stretches from Vancouver island to northern California, has been dormant for over 300 years but scientists now believe there is a 45 per cent probability of an earthquake of an 8.0 magnitude or higher in the next 50 years. They add there is a 15 per cent chance of magnitude 9 or more.
Such a quake could produce a massive tsunami and engulf the Pacific Northwest coast, affecting Oregon, Washington state and Vancouver Island, according to The Times, with a tsunami with waves of up to 30metres high and potentially reaching Japan.
The threat is all the more serious as several cities in the north-west of the U.S. are not adequately prepared for the type of devastation a ‘megathrust’ quake could wreak.
Below is a documentary which should help to shed more light on the risks of this potentially huge earthquake: