TENSION is building along a fault line on the US west coast where experts from the US Geological Survey (USGS) fear a devastating magnitude nine earthquake could strike.
The Pacific Northwest sits on top of the Cascadia subduction zone and experts believe the fault could one day unleash a monstrous earthquake registering as magnitude nine. To get an understanding of just how devastating a magnitude nine quake could be in the middle of the ocean, one just has to look back to March 11, 2011 Japanese tsunami. Waves measuring up to 40 metres tall hit parts of Japan after a magnitude 9 earthquake struck in the Pacific. Almost 16,000 people died.
And experts have told Express.co.uk tension is building along the Cascadia Subduction Zone – and it could trigger a similar earthquake.
The Cascadia subduction zone is thought to generate a huge quake every 200 to 530 years. The last one arrived in 1700.
When that earthquake hit, the fault slipped by 20 metres and ruptured for 620 miles down the west coast of the US and Canada.
Such was the power of the quake, a tsunami hit the coast of Japan more than 3,000 miles away.
And experts believe it is now just a matter of time before the next disaster strikes.
Robert de Groot of the USGS told Express.co.uk: “There will be landslides and ground failure. That zone is a region where there is compression going on between the Pacific plate and Juan de Fuca plate.
“Basically the idea is that those regions are being squeezed, squeezed, squeezed and when it reaches a certain point, it will bounce back and a lot of energy is going to be released
“It will be like hitting a gong and a lot of vibrations are going to be sent out.”
What makes a subduction zone more lethal than a regular earthquake fault line is that it is a region where two plates lie on top of each other.
As a result, subduction zone faults can cause much more damage as one plate crushes the other.
The slip in the Cascadia zone could cause nine meter tall waves. These waves have the potential to kill 11,000 people in the state and injure a further 26,000, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Planning Manager for Seaside, Oregon, Kevin Cupples warned that there is not much that can be done to prepare for the inevitable tragedy.
Mr Cupples previously warned: “Someday it’s going to happen. And that could be 15 minutes from now or that could be years down the road.”
Oregon State University paleoseismologist Chris Goldfinger said: “It’ll spread from Canada to California over 800 miles.”