Geologists have learned that there’s a huge earthquake zone in the Seattle area. They discovered this from studying a huge tsunami that hit Japan in the 17th century, triggered by an earthquake in the Pacific Northwest.

In, Leander Kahney quotes Brian Atwater of the U.S. Geological Survey as saying, “This region has the potential for truly enormous earthquakes.” His research shows that a magnitude-9 quake that occurred on January 26, 1700 sent a 15-foot tsunami into Japan about 14 hours later. In the U.S., there are Native American legends about the quake, while in Japan, it was well documented.

This earthquake zone runs 600 miles up the Pacific Coast from Northern California to southern British Columbia and seems to produce a huge quake every 500 years, meaning another one is due in about 100 years. If an earthquake happened there today, it would affect Vancouver, Portland and Seattle. All three cities have high rise buildings which are not built to withstand earthquakes.

Entire civilizations can disappear in the blink of an eye.

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