Subduction zone earthquakes off Oregon, Washington more frequent than previous estimates
A new analysis suggests that massive earthquakes on northern sections of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, affecting areas of the Pacific Northwest that are more heavily populated, are somewhat more frequent than has been believed in the past.
The chance of one occurring within the next 50 years is also slightly higher than previously estimated.
The findings, published this week in the journal Marine Geology, are based on data that is far more detailed and comprehensive than anything prior to this. It used measurements from 195 core samples containing submarine landslide deposits caused by subduction zone earthquakes, instead of only about a dozen such samples in past research.
The work was done by researchers from Oregon State University, Camosun College in British Columbia and Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra in Spain. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey.
"These new results are based on much better data than has been available before, and reinforce our confidence in findings regarding the potential for major earthquakes on the Cascadia Subduction Zone," said Chris Goldfinger, a professor in the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at OSU, and one of the world's leading experts on tectonic activity of this subduction zone.
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Image: Mt. Thielson via oregon.gov