‘Big one’ coming? Earthquakes from the West Coast can eventually lead to a global event

(Credit: USGS)

A series of recent earthquakes off the west coast of the USA, ranging from 2.8 to 5.6 on the Richter scale, can help in the activation of the earthquake in the popularly known as “the Big One.”

The map provided by the U. S. Geological Survey highlights 11 recent earthquakes, all occurring on the seabed of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, about 6 km below the surface. The plate, which is described as “small” by the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN), is quite active, moving east-northeast at about 1.6 inches per year.

To date, the USGS has issued warnings about the wave of earthquakes, given the rather general character of the caliber of the quakes, Don Blakeman, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center told the Daily Mail.


A part of the care surrounding the album is that it is not a smooth movement, but a movement described as “sticky,” allowing tension to build up until the fault breaks and a few meters of Juan De Fuca slips under North America in a big earthquake.”

PNSN noticed that there are a lot of of the slip (approximately 10 metres) over a very large area to generate the M9 (magnitude of 9.0) level earthquake that could hit the region, but
noted that it happens approximately every 550 years on average.

The reason for concern is what happens if the Juan de Fuca plate eventually suffers under the much larger Pacific plate. For approximately 330 years, the album has steadily pushed down, an activity that will eventually lead to be pushed under the North american plate, causing the region to sink six feet at the minimum and can lead to one of the largest earthquakes in human history.

If the entire 650-km-long Cascadia Subduction Zone (where the Juan de Fuca plate) were for the experience of a complete break, it can not only lead to a 9.0 earthquake, but a tsunami.

The Juan De Fuca plate, which stretches from Northern California to British Columbia and the Cascadia Subduction Zone stretches from N. Vancouver Island to Cape Mendicino, California.


Recent studies have shown how vulnerable we are to the proverbial “Big one.”

Last month, a detailed study that there is a 15 – to 20-km-long stretch of the San Andreas fault in the Durmid ladder structure, which can lead to an earthquake with a magnitude of 7 or higher.

“This newly identified Durmid ladder structure is an extensive, right-reverse fault zone that extends across Durmid Hill rotating domains of regularly spaced, left – and right-lateral cross faults,” a research article about the study reads.

The research to put the odds at 75% that it would occur in both northern and southern California sometime in the next 30 years.

The “Big One” has been warned about multiple times before, with the USGS to write extensively on the subject, including the use in the past earthquakes to better predict the future.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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