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A local tsunami could be more dangerous than thought

September 6, 2013

Scientists are back from a month long research cruise in the Pacific Ocean off the Washington coast, where they were trying to find the stickiest point on a section of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the huge undersea fault that breaks loose every few hundred years and generates a massive tsunami and earthquake.

Paul Johnson, a professor of geophysics at the University of Washington, was one of the principal scientists. He says it will be some time before the data from deep-sea measurements of heat and gas emissions is fully analyzed.

Preliminary indications are that the strongest upheaval will be farther out to sea than previously thought. That is important because the farther out to sea that upheaval occurs, the bigger the tsunami, and the less damage on land from the earthquake.

Last summer, scientists did seismic research along the same area off Grays Harbor. Scientists have done similar research off Vancouver Island, and Johnson hopes to do more off Oregon, perhaps by 2016, the soonest the RV Atlantis would be available for another cruise.

Because the research was financed by the National Academy of Sciences, the data will be publicly posted on the Internet in coming months for anyone to access and analyze, Johnson said.

RV Atlantis

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