Earthquake experts warn next ‘big one’ could be worse than first thought

Posted on February 21, 2012

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SEATTLE — Experts agree that it’s not a matter of if, but when the Pacific Northwest is rocked by an enormous earthquake, but new information show that the “big one” could be even bigger and badder than first thought.

Scientists say when the next big one hits, it could be something straight out of your nightmares.

“Right now, technology is telling us we should be prepared, we should prepare for something like we saw in Japan,” said Dr. Eddie Bernard, a Tsunami Expert and former NOAA Director.

Like Bernard, University of Washington seismologist Bill Steele said hidden under the Pacific Ocean is a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off.

“There will be a lot of destruction,” Steele said.

Because Washington, Oregon and California are sitting against a huge subduction zone, the area could see see an earthquake and tsunami similar to the one that hit Japan last year.

And now new data just collected from Japan’s damaged coastline warns seismologist that the next mega quake to hit the Pacific Northwest could be ever bigger than first thought.

“It means we’ll probably get a little more shaking the next time there is a great earthquake here,” said John Vidale, a UW professor and the state’s seismologist.

Vidale said researchers were surprised to learn this week that the strongest shaking in Japan’s quake came from the deepest part of the subduction zone and not the shallow region as scientists expected.

“That’s more of a problem for us than Japan because the deeper part of our fault is under the land, under the cities, in Japan the action was mostly off-shore,” he said.

Komo News

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