Breathtaking simulation shows potential tsunami in the Pacific Northwest (VIDEO)

Feb 24 2023, 10:42 pm


The simulation is not meant to provide insights into what would happen in Canada, however.

So Daily Hive Urbanized reached out to Brindley Smith, a Seismic Analyst with the Canadian Hazards Information Service, to learn more.

Imagining a magnitude 9 earthquake in the Cascadia region

If there’s an earthquake and resulting tsunami, just like in the simulation, what would happen here in Canada?

“For an earthquake of this size and rupture pattern, the tsunami would impact coasts around the Pacific Ocean, and on our western coastline would reach heights of 20 to 30 meters,” said Smith.

“The areas most vulnerable to this are those exposed to the open ocean, especially inlets, and may be indicated in municipal tsunami zone maps.”

According to Smith, coastal communities could have low-level flooding, but the currents would be “strong and erratic,” so people should generally stay away from marinas and beaches.

“As a result of the dramatic shifts of the North American and Juan de Fuca Plates during the earthquake, communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island are expected to subside as much as one to two meters,” said Smith.

“The shaking from such an earthquake will be felt hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometres away,” said Smith.

“For major earthquakes, there are associated hazards of landslides, liquefaction, and tsunami over a wide area as well.”

The last “big one”

“The last megathrust event along the Cascadia Subduction Zone took place on January 26th, 1700,” said Smith.

“The fault is located roughly 150 km offshore and ruptures every several hundred years. There is greater likelihood, however, of large (M~7) inland earthquakes, located much closer to major cities, with damaging events occurring on a roughly decadal scale.”

According to Smith, there have been four magnitude 7 or greater events in South Western BC in the last 130 years.

“The closest megathrust event within the last century was the 1964 magnitude 9.2 earthquake located 120 km east of Anchorage, Alaska. While small buildings saw little damage from the earthquake, damage did occur to large buildings and structures such as bridges,” said Smith.

Preventing earthquake damage

“Since earthquakes cannot be predicted, it is essential that buildings are constructed to building code standards and that people prepare for these events,” said Smith.

We encourage everyone to practice the 3-step process of Drop, Cover, and Hold on, in which your priority upon experiencing an earthquake is to get low, get under a nearby piece of furniture (such as a chair or desk), grab hold of the desk, and wait out the shaking.

Smith says that folks can make their own emergency preparedness kits, too.

Early warnings for earthquakes

Next year, a national earthquake early warning system will be brought online.

It will provide “tens to hundreds of seconds of warning before the strong shaking from the earthquake arrives.”

“This time is invaluable and will give people the critical time they need to Drop, Cover and Hold on, as well as allow an automated system to reduce risks, [for example] by slowing trains or warning incoming airplanes.”

Sarah AndersonSarah Anderson

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