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Recently, there have been a series of strong earthquakes on the compression side of the pacific plate. We had the 6.3 in Christchurch, New Zealand last month, the huge 9.0 quake off the coast of north eastern Japan last week, the 8.8 quake in Chile on Feb 27 2010 (Nazca plate which contacts the pacific plate), the 8.1 Samoa earthquake on September 29, 2009.

I wonder if the west coast of North America is ripe for a shake.

Here's a list of the major quakes of the 21st century.

I am no expert on earthquakes but it makes sense that when we get a series of major quakes around the edges of a major plate, it's likely that those quakes will alter the stresses at other regions of the plate.

Here's a map of the major plates with arrows indicating compression, slippage and expansion zones.

As you can see, the west coast from LA to British Columbia to Alaska is in direct contact with this plate.

I'm hoping that we'll have a few geologists with some expert knowledge chime in in the comments with their thoughts about this. I don't know about you, but this makes me fear for my friends on the west coast of North America.Updated by yuriwho at Sun Mar 13, 2011, 05:38:46 PM

now a volcano in Japan is erupting. see http://www.dailykos.com/...


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    we are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place <- Me

    by yuriwho on Sun Mar 13, 2011 at 02:31:30 PM PDT

  •  There are reasons the Pacific Rim (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sceptical observer, arizonablue

    is occasionally referred to as the Ring of Fire.

    Don't know, but I do intend to watch for any news.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Sun Mar 13, 2011 at 02:50:58 PM PDT

  •  The risk that captures the attention of the (12+ / 0-)

    PacNW is the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which runs from British Columbia to northern California.  The geologic record suggests it has produces a megathrust earthquake every 400 - 600 years.  The last event occurred sometime in the evening of Jan. 26, 1700;  it is estimated to have been approximately a 9.0 event that produced tsunami's that not only swept far inland but also generated a tsunami on the east coast of Honshu, Japan (which they called an "orphan" because it came without the warning of an earthquake)...

    The smart money is on an event that will look a whole lot like Friday's disaster in Japan.  The only question seems to be "when?"...

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile..." - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

    by Jack K on Sun Mar 13, 2011 at 03:19:34 PM PDT

    •  TY for the info (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dotsright, kalmoth, raines, arizonablue

      off to search google for megathrust earthquake.

      we are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place <- Me

      by yuriwho on Sun Mar 13, 2011 at 03:22:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Western WA gets small quakes on a regular basis (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jack K, yuriwho

      but doesn't make a huge deal about them, since we have Mt. St. Helens, and a few others who are also at risk and on the mainland and throw off more lava, lahars and such than earthquakes do.  Our last biggish one was Nisqually, in 2001, because inland of Cascadia, we also have a hyperfractured group of faults of which the most famous is Fairweather. We just don't get as much publicity as San Andreas.

      When I read your headline, I was frankly thinking about whether the radiation from the Japanese expanding nuclear disaster was what you had in mind. The state government here has already started monitoring for that, and have suggested a six to ten day wait for anything, if it even gets here, because our Pineapple express and Jet stream would probably take winds from Japan north of us. They are monitoring and will let us know. Unless the Rs eliminated that from the budget along with the NOAA tsunami warning net.

      •  Actually, having had most of my "workplace" blown (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        yuriwho

        up by Mt. St. Helens and going through an evacuation drill myself back when I was an early 20-something federal land management employee -  as well as being a life-long PacNW resident - I tend to not be all that terribly relaxed about comparisons between volcanic lahars (the immediate aftereffects I've seen close up and personal) and the potential of "the Big One".   I think about the risk all the time when I'm at the coast at Newport or Westport or even at the in-law's place east of the greater Aberdeen-Hoquiam metropolitan area...

        "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile..." - Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

        by Jack K on Sun Mar 13, 2011 at 10:14:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The area I'd look for a big one (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yuriwho, arizonablue

    Is in the Kamchatka -- West Aleutians area.  The Pacific plate is subducting under the North American plate, according to your map, and given the size and location of the Japan quake it looks as though the extreme western edge of that zone just gave way.  Put that together with the even larger Alaska quake of 1964, and there is now more focused stress in the area of the subduction zone between them.  It's a broad area, though, and it might be decades before another megathrust earthquake occurs there.  Once it does, the rest of that region will be under even greater stress.

    •  What a bunch of nonsense. (0+ / 0-)

      You have no scientific evidence for that supposition whatsoever. What a crock.

      It is a calling...to do things about injustice.... It helps to have a goal. I've always tried to have one.--Ted Kennedy, True Compass

      by Timaeus on Sun Mar 13, 2011 at 04:19:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nobody can predict earthquakes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        yuriwho

        ... but there's a lot of evidence of deformational pressure patterns being transferred along strike-slip faults like the San Andreas and Northern Anatolian faults.  There's also evidence of sequential megathrust earthquakes, such as the 2010 7.7 Sumatra quake which occurred just south of the big 2004 quake, both on the Sunda fault.  And the big 8.8 Chile quake involved a segment of the Nazca subduction zone above the area involved in the 9.5 1960 quake.

        So no, I can't prove a prediction.  But looking at probable stress patterns along the megathrust faults, that area and the southern Sunda fault are the ones I'd be most worried about.  Which is not to say a big earthquake can't occur anywhere at any time.

  •  Nonsense. (0+ / 0-)

    There is no scientific evidence that a quake at one side of a huge plate increases the near-term risk of a quake at the other side.

    Give some evidence, or consider deleting the diary.

    It is a calling...to do things about injustice.... It helps to have a goal. I've always tried to have one.--Ted Kennedy, True Compass

    by Timaeus on Sun Mar 13, 2011 at 04:18:16 PM PDT

    •  I will not delete it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fury, arizonablue

      I was asking for expert input to a weak hypothesis. You have provided no information.

      we are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place <- Me

      by yuriwho on Sun Mar 13, 2011 at 04:37:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Found this link (4+ / 0-)

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/...

      describing more locally connected earthquake storms. Not sure about transmission across an entire plate though. IMO, this topic is open for discussion.

      we are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place <- Me

      by yuriwho on Sun Mar 13, 2011 at 04:42:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And here, the science is still out... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        yuriwho

        on the question...

        Coincidence, or connection?

        According to Friedrich, seismologic modeling and mathematical calculation of stresses has shown an increase of stresses in other parts of the world after an earthquake occurs. This, combined with statistical data, has created a theory that a large earthquake such as the recent ones in Haiti and Chile can relieve stress in one part of a plate and increase it in another, potentially causing a follow-up quake in another part of the world.

        "The problem is that you have to prove that it is not a coincidence, which is really hard," he said.

        Some scientists say they are relatively sure that after an earthquake, stress is redistributed to other locations on the tectonic plate. But connecting the effect to a second, later earthquake is not so easy, they maintain.

        That the Chile earthquake occurred not long after the Haiti one, is still likely to be a coincidence, Friedrich said.

        Reiner Kind, a researcher at the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, concurs. "No one has so far successfully proved that earthquakes on one side of a plate are linked with earthquakes on the other side of the plate," he said.

        'If you want to be a hero, well just follow me.' - J. Lennon

        by Clive all hat no horse Rodeo on Sun Mar 13, 2011 at 06:29:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  but the possibility is probably being researched (2+ / 0-)

          is it a solid theory, no. However as long as we're clear we're just speculating and following intuition then I think this is a good discussion. It's how scientific ideas start, followed (hopefully) by rigorous testing and/or mathematical proofs.

          •  Yep, thats how science works (0+ / 0-)

            the last hypothesis standing that fits the data and is accepted by the supermajority of investigators is considered a temporary fact.

            BTW, I'm sure Darwin was correct.

            we are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place <- Me

            by yuriwho on Sun Mar 13, 2011 at 09:16:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Okay, sorry, it's a worthy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        yuriwho

        thing to speculate about.

        It is a calling...to do things about injustice.... It helps to have a goal. I've always tried to have one.--Ted Kennedy, True Compass

        by Timaeus on Sun Mar 13, 2011 at 07:08:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  well it's a free-fire zone for speculation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yuriwho, arizonablue

    as I recall, the US midwest had 7 point earthquakes that would really cause a lot of damage today, far from any plate boundary. I think that some areas are hit more often, but it could happen almost anywhere.

  •  Helpful illustration. Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yuriwho

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