This has me wondering if it would really be that bad to live in Oklahoma, or maybe Kansas – this article in the New Yorker about the fact that when the Cascadia subduction zone finally snaps, the resulting tsunami will wipe out everything west of the I-5 freeway that runs from southern California to the Canadian border at Blaine, Washington. I live a couple of miles west of I-5. The article is titled The Earthquake That Will Devastate Seattle.
When the next very big earthquake hits, the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the Cascades, will drop by as much as six feet and rebound thirty to a hundred feet to the west—losing, within minutes, all the elevation and compression it has gained over centuries. Some of that shift will take place beneath the ocean, displacing a colossal quantity of seawater. (Watch what your fingertips do when you flatten your hand.) The water will surge upward into a huge hill, then promptly collapse. One side will rush west, toward Japan. The other side will rush east, in a seven-hundred-mile liquid wall that will reach the Northwest coast, on average, fifteen minutes after the earthquake begins. By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”
But wait a second. There’s a mountain range between Seattle and the ocean. I’m looking at it right now – the middle of it is due west of me.
So I guess Seattle will just be shaken and smashed like the rest of the region.