Scientists who are studying the Fukushima earthquake have uncovered data that predicts a "big one" in the Pacific Northwest, along the coasts of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

The Fukushima quake was precipitated by what is called the "Tohoku area" of underwater plates. On the Weatherbug site, Sandi Doughton quotes earthquake expert John Anderson as saying, "The Cascadia subduction zone can be seen as a mirror image of the Tohoku area." When Anderson compiled ground-motion data from the Japan quake and overlaid it on a map of the Pacific Northwest, which has a similar fault lying offshore, the two faults dovetailed almost exactly.

The Northwest’s only nuclear-power plant is the 28-year-old Columbia Generating Station, which has a license to operate through 2023. Geologists have discovered several new faults running through the area, capable of generating earthquakes as big as magnitude 7.5.

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