Seattle could experience a one-two punch. First, an earthquake reaching 9 on the Richter Scale could strike the Pacific Northwest. A quake of this intensity would be enough to pulverize skyscrapers and kill people where they stood. Along with the predicted eruption of Mt. Rainier, this foretells a dire future for the area.

Jill Stoddard, of the Columbia University Earth Institute, writes that new research on the coastal waters off Vancouver reveals that the area where the Juan de Fuca and North America plates overlap is almost twice the size seismologists thought it was, and the greater the overlap, the more friction that’s built up, resulting in a more powerful earthquake. They’ve also discovered that the earthquake zone extends farther towards the mainland than they realized, creating an additional hazard for coastal communities.

This zone could create so much energy when it finally releases that it would produce one of the largest earthquakes in history. It would release 1,000 times the energy of the 2001 Seattle earthquake, which registered only 6.8 on the Richter Scale.

We have to hope this isn’t Seattle’s final hour.

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