A mega-tsunami in the Pacific north-west? It could be worse than predicted, new study says


Scientists have discovered the size of the ‘outer wedge’ of a faultline can magnify a rupture’s impact. That’s a worrying news for the people living along the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a fault running from Vancouver Island to northern California…

Cascadia earthquake tsunami science
Researchers say their findings add a new element to consider when making tsunami predictions. Picture: Patrick T Fallon

Scientists have long predicted a giant 9.0-magnitude earthquake that reverberates out from the Pacific north-west’s Cascadia fault and quickly triggers colossal waves barreling to shore.

But what if these predictions were missing an important piece of information – one that, in certain scenarios, could tell an even more extreme story?

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New study

A new study, published last month in the peer-reviewed journal Earth-Science Reviews, points toward such a missing piece. Researchers revealed a previously unknown relationship between the severity of a tsunami triggered by an earthquake and something known as “the outer wedge”, the area between the main earthquake fault and the seafloor.

Sylvain Barbot, a co-author of the study, described the outer wedge as the garbage bag of subduction zones”, the place where two tectonic plates crash into each other and can produce an earthquake, because it’s where sediment piles up.

The researchers’ findings suggest that the wider it is, the larger the maximum size of the tsunami will be.

The connection adds a new element to consider when making tsunami predictions, one that the authors suggest could mean heightened worst-case scenario predictions for some faults, including Cascadia.

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There are places where [the outer wedge is] tiny, so great news,” said Barbot, an associate professor in earth science at the University of Southern California. “And there are places where it’s huge. And that’s the case in the Pacific north-west.

For about two years, he and co-author Qiang Qiu, of the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, studied 11 “tsunami earthquakes” that have taken place across the world over the past 200 years. These rare events involve less powerful earthquakes (the authors looked at those measuring 7.1- to 8.2-magnitude) that produce huge tsunamis and have long puzzled scientists.

They found a correlative relationship between the maximum tsunami height and the outer wedge. The wider it is, Barbot explained, the more faults there are, the more chances there are to move the seafloor and thus the more extreme the tsunami may be.

Imagine a bookshelf full of books, and you take the books and you tilt them all 45 degrees … The interface between any book is a fault. And so, in an outer wedge you have all of these books, and all of these faults in between. And they can provide a pathway for the rupture to go up, instead of going left,” he explained.

From there, they used these findings to make tsunami predictions about dozens of other active subduction zones around the “ring of fire”, a nearly 25,000-mile path where most of the world’s earthquakes occur.

Towards the top of that list was the 600-mile Cascadia subduction zone. It runs from Vancouver Island, Canada, down to northern California, and is poised for its next large earthquake. Its last Big One was in 1700, and current estimates point to about a 15% chance of a 9.0-magnitude earthquake in the next 50 years.

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Best article about Cascadia Subduction Zone

A 2015 Pulitzer prize-winning New Yorker article brought widespread attention to the subduction zone, describing its next full-scale quake “as the worst natural disaster in the history of North America, outside of the 2010 Haiti earthquake”.

The site, according to the authors, has a fairly large outer wedge (running between 15 and 43km). According to their research, that suggests that the tsunami triggered by the earthquake could reach higher than 200 feet (61 meters). Although there’s a range of predictions for the Big One, that is roughly twice as high as some of the most severe previously considered scenarios.

When compared with the 30 other subduction zones analyzed by the study’s authors, Cascadia was ranked fifth in terms of tsunami severity. It’s behind such subduction zones as Makran (in Pakistan and Iran), Aleutian (in Alaska) and Lesser Antilles (in the Caribbean), according to the authors.

Barbot explained that the findings need to be further validated, but they could ultimately lead not only to changes in tsunami predictions, but also to emergency preparedness in these regions.

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If you prepare for a 30-meter tsunami, and a 60-meter one comes in, you basically need to double the height of your evacuation zones,” he said. “You need to change where you plan to build the infrastructure, like hospitals and schools. It changes also, in a more practical sense, basically the price of insurance for real estate. It changes the risk, essentially, and how it’s spatially distributed.

But of course, this outer wedge is not the only variable that can influence the size of a tsunami. There are many other factors that come into play, including the slope of the seafloor and the overall topography.

Harold Tobin, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington, cautioned that while this study reveals an interesting new finding, further research is needed to fully factor in these other variables.

He explained that it would be premature to jump to any conclusions or start modifying how the Pacific north-west or other areas prepare for tsunamis.

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What we need to do is factor in the evidence that this paper has given us to build better models for all of that; to refine and improve the scenarios that are being prepared for,” said Tobin. “But all by itself, it doesn’t mean that we need to suddenly say, ‘OK, there’s double the tsunami hazard as before.’ It just points to one possible mechanism that could mean that the tsunami hazard could be greater than previously thought.” [Science Direct, The Guardian]

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qfiles by steve quayle


  1. This is the third time in seven years that a total or annular eclipse crosses the United States mainland, following the total eclipse of August 2017 and the annular eclipse of October 2023.

    The narrow path of totality—where the Moon covers the Sun completely, causing a total eclipse—runs through Mexico (from Sinaloa to Coahuila), the US (from Texas to Maine), and Canada (from Ontario to Newfoundland). A partial eclipse will be visible across nearly all of North America, and a sliver of western Europe.

    Is this Total Solar Eclipse visible in Dresden?
    What the Eclipse Will Look Like Near the Maximum Point

    The animation shows what the eclipse approximately looks like near the maximum point. The curvature of the Moon’s path is due to the Earth’s rotation.
    Please leave all coastal cities in West coast to East Coast North and South months before the April 8 2024…. Great red alert will be for all planet indeed. Dare not to prepare or exit the cities that will be either evaporated by Russia Satan 2 missile or pending to go to ocean before or shortly after Eclipse of Sun April 2024. Mark your Calendar indeed.

  2. Has anyone noticed that X marks the spot in 2024 where another total eclipse will be seen in Illinois? This spot may mark where the New Madrid starts. When this occurs, the continent will separate and the Great Lakes emptied. There will be no way across the Mississippi except by air. This is consistent with the apocalyptic prophecies and visions of holy Catholic mystics and seers which I often refer to on my website, spirit-digest.

  3. well you guys i said it before Third Shaking of Planet , the great spirit will shake it done with its two hands indeed . We are divided so much and we all are against each others , neighbors against neighbor and sister against brothers as we know divided nation can not withstand together indeed. duck duck go it endofamericandream? We took bit of UK indeed shame on all of us.

  4. YOU GUYS DO NOT LISTEN WELL,the LORD already told his Prophets THE COMING EARTHQUAKE WILL BE THE BIGGEST IN HISTORY..”A 25.6″ magitude..haft of the stuctures in america will collapse..CALIFORNIA will go into the pacific Ocean,FROM BAHA CALIF,TO VICTORIA ,CANADA,all of it will drown if you don’t get to high ground in time,OH,and the JAPANESE earthquake was caused by TWO NUCLEAR WEAPONS OFF THE COAST OF JAPAN,the FEDERAL RESERVE TOLD JAPAN..WE WANT ALL THE RETIREMENT MONEY IN YOUR BANKS…

  5. We don’t believe for a moment that the Japanese Earth quake was natural. There was word out that if the Japanese did not do what they were told they would suffer.

    Shortly thereafter they had that earthquake, and it was decidedly not from a subduction zone’s natural propensities. We believe it was triggered purposefully by the likes of an AARP type electromagnetic pulse, causing the zone to rupture unnaturally.

    This was revealed during an interview with the Japanese Finance ministry I believe, that they knew the USA would harm them in some manner if they would not comply with our demands.

    Yes, America does have those kinds of tools and have had them for decades as was outlined in the book, “Angels don’t play this Haarp” by Nick Begich

  6. Michael is very correct! It will also cause severe damage to Chicago, Cincinnati, NY City and Boston. And will cause a 50 foot tidal wave to hit entire east coast. Shortly after, triggers the west coast faults. One source says it is very close. This year, perhaps. Be biggest event in world history. Better prepare. As Alex Jones says, “It’s better to prepare 10 years too early, than 1 day too late.”

  7. “as the worst natural disaster in the history of North America, outside of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.”
    Uh the worst was and will be the Madrid Zone. When it let’s loose depending on time of day, +- 2-3 million people will die in 1 hour. In 24 hrs – up to 5-10 Million will die or are serious injured who will die later.
    Every bridge within a circle of 100-250 miles will be destroyed or damaged badly. Power lines, Natgas pipes will be ripped open (Fires/explosion’s), water plants/pipes gone, brick and poorly constructed buildings will be totally or very badly damaged to the point where they are inhabitable, roads will be impassable, Hospitals gone/badly damaged and Dr’s/Nurses dead or badly injured. Then the ‘Fun’ starts…starvation, diseases from bad food/water, riots, looting, people killing others for FOOD…in 1811-1812 that quake caused numerous little villages to disappear completely. That is Log Cabins going DOWN into the liquified mud. Now think of those red brick 3 story houses you pass every day in St. Louis, Chicago, Louisville, KY, etc. etc. etc.
    In many city’s, buildings are made of 2x12x30 ft. joists that are are ‘STUCK’ into the brick wall…I leave the rest to your imagination.
    Now when the Madrid lets loose…it will shake America from the Rockies to Newfoundland, Hudson Bay to Cuba.
    In 1811-1812 the bell in the Boston Commons Church rang because the structure swayed violently. In Louisville KY, the reporter for a Louisville. KY newspaper wrote that ‘the ground waved 2-3 feet like waves on the Ocean’.
    Imagine your Home and Utility’s surviving THAT!
    If you live in the Reelfoot/WKY region – MOVE! We moved to a SC KY County that is on a rock foundation therefore much more stable than MUD like Louisville, KY!
    Most of all…prepare to be on your own for 6 months to 2 YEARS. It can and WILL happen in the future…best to be prepared than be DED!

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