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Cascadia's Fault: The Coming Earthquake and Tsunami That Could Devastate North America

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There’s a crack in the earth’s crust that runs roughly 31 miles offshore, approximately 683 miles from northern California up through Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia. The Cascadia Subduction Zone has generated massive earthquakes over and over again throughout geologic time; at least 36 major events in the last 10,000 years. This fault generates a monste There’s a crack in the earth’s crust that runs roughly 31 miles offshore, approximately 683 miles from northern California up through Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia. The Cascadia Subduction Zone has generated massive earthquakes over and over again throughout geologic time; at least 36 major events in the last 10,000 years. This fault generates a monster earthquake about every 500 years. And the monster is due to return at any time. It could happen 200 years from now, or it could be tonight. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is virtually identical to the offshore fault that wrecked Sumatra in 2004. It will generate the same earthquake we saw in Sumatra, at magnitude 9 or higher, sending crippling shockwaves across a far wider area than any California quake. Slamming into Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver, it will send tidal waves to the shores of Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, damaging the economies of the Pacific Rim countries and their trading partners for years to come. In light of recent massive quakes in Haiti, Chile, and Mexico, Cascadia’s Fault not only tells the story of this potentially devastating earthquake and the tsunamis it will spawn, it also warns us about the impending crisis almost unprecedented in modern history.


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There’s a crack in the earth’s crust that runs roughly 31 miles offshore, approximately 683 miles from northern California up through Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia. The Cascadia Subduction Zone has generated massive earthquakes over and over again throughout geologic time; at least 36 major events in the last 10,000 years. This fault generates a monste There’s a crack in the earth’s crust that runs roughly 31 miles offshore, approximately 683 miles from northern California up through Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia. The Cascadia Subduction Zone has generated massive earthquakes over and over again throughout geologic time; at least 36 major events in the last 10,000 years. This fault generates a monster earthquake about every 500 years. And the monster is due to return at any time. It could happen 200 years from now, or it could be tonight. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is virtually identical to the offshore fault that wrecked Sumatra in 2004. It will generate the same earthquake we saw in Sumatra, at magnitude 9 or higher, sending crippling shockwaves across a far wider area than any California quake. Slamming into Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver, it will send tidal waves to the shores of Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, damaging the economies of the Pacific Rim countries and their trading partners for years to come. In light of recent massive quakes in Haiti, Chile, and Mexico, Cascadia’s Fault not only tells the story of this potentially devastating earthquake and the tsunamis it will spawn, it also warns us about the impending crisis almost unprecedented in modern history.

30 review for Cascadia's Fault: The Coming Earthquake and Tsunami That Could Devastate North America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    I know I wasn’t alone in spending a gripping lunch hour at my desk, sad turkey sandwich forgotten, reading Kathryn Schultz’s New Yorker article entitled The Really Big One. It’s the kind of writing that really grabs you by the short hairs. Its hook: a devastating earthquake-tsunami combo is going to destroy a not-insignificant portion of the maritime Northwest. It’s only a question of when – and, by the way, we might be overdue. Doomsday scenarios are easy to write. They get attention, provoke a I know I wasn’t alone in spending a gripping lunch hour at my desk, sad turkey sandwich forgotten, reading Kathryn Schultz’s New Yorker article entitled The Really Big One. It’s the kind of writing that really grabs you by the short hairs. Its hook: a devastating earthquake-tsunami combo is going to destroy a not-insignificant portion of the maritime Northwest. It’s only a question of when – and, by the way, we might be overdue. Doomsday scenarios are easy to write. They get attention, provoke a reaction, and have the advantage of usually being right – given enough time, all disasters will come to pass, whether it be a tornado or volcano, hurricane or earthquake, asteroid or comet. Schultz’s story has the added benefit of being excellently written. It is crisp, taut, terrifying, and also impeccably researched. By the end, it left me with vivid visions of bearded hipsters struggling to swim in skinny jeans. The disaster Schultz traces is – in its economic repercussions – national in scope. Locally, it could transform the seaboard for decades. In 2011, the Tohoku tsunami killed 18,000 people and triggered a nuclear reaction. And the Japanese were prepared. We, according to Schultz, are not. Schultz concludes her article with a devastatingly effective closing paragraph: All day long, just out of sight, the ocean rises up and collapses, spilling foamy overlapping ovals onto the shore. Eighty miles farther out, ten thousand feet below the surface of the sea, the hand of a geological clock is somewhere in its slow sweep. All across the region, seismologists are looking at their watches, wondering how long we have, and what we will do, before geological time catches up to our own. Before reading this article, my only other exposure to earthquake writing was Simon Winchester’s indigestible A Crack at the Edge of the World. But by the time I reached Schultz’s final sentence, I wanted to know everything about them. I went online to find follow-up postings. It seemed odd that I had missed the impending deluge of the upper left side of our country. While I researched worst-case scenarios – to wit: rising seawater inundates Sleater-Kinney in a heartbeat – I stumbled across Jerry Thompson’s Cascadia’s Fault. Based on a quick perusal of the table of contents, it seemed to cover and expand upon the same ground as Schultz’s article, so I ordered it. (To be fair, Thompson published his book in 2011, and was trumpeting this potential disaster long before that.) Thompson’s book doesn’t deliver the same concentrated wallop of The Really Big One, but it does a very credible job unraveling the geologic mystery of the natural disaster that will make Portlandia far less funny. The fault in the Pacific Northwest’s stars is known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a crack in the earth’s crust, roughly sixty miles offshore and running eight hundred miles from northern Vancouver Island to northern California. It has generated massive earthquakes not just once or twice, but over and over again throughout geologic time…Nineteen of those events ripped the fault from end to end, a “full margin rupture…” Given that the last big quake was more than 310 years ago, one might argue that a very bad day…is ominously overdue. The Cascadia fault has the potential to generate a magnitude 9 or higher earthquake. And whereas the San Andrea fault can rattle a major urban area, the Cascadia fault would hit a much larger region all at once. (Not even the Rock could help us then…) Just to top it all off – because the toppling of buildings, buckling of roads, and loss of utilities isn’t enough – the up-surging continental plate will trigger a fifty-foot tsunami. Essentially, we’re talking a Roland Emmerich film (but not The Patriot). Or as Billy Bob Thornton intoned in Armageddon: “Basically the worst parts of the Bible.” Suddenly the series of questionable decisions that led me to landlocked Omaha seem like acts of genius. Despite having explosive material that lends itself to a kind of drink-all-the-whiskey-pull-out-your-hair-jump-out-the-window-run-around-in-circles-while-screaming hysteria, Thompson is a very sober, careful writer. He begins in Mexico City, to demonstrate what a powerful earthquake can do all on its own. He also devotes a chapter to the 1964 tsunami that hit Vancouver Island shortly after midnight following an Alaskan earthquake. As the turning flood crashed over rocks at the Bamfield lighthouse on the outer coast, a keeper on duty grabbed the phone and placed an urgent call to Port Alberni, a mill town at the head of the inlet. The funnel shape of the inlet itself – a saltwater canyon cut through narrowing mountain walls – squeezed and amplified the wave as it shot toward the heart of Vancouver Island like a cannon ball…No one noticed the fist of frigid seawater as it lifted two channel marker buoys and thundered across the threshold of the inner harbor. Night shift longshoremen, completely unaware, continued to hoist and sling bundles of lumber aboard the Meishusan Maru, a Japanese freighter at the sawmill dock. In the nearby pulp mill, boilers were running full steam. Paper machines were spinning out massive rolls of newsprint for the Los Angeles Times… The bulk of Thompson’s book is dedicated to discovering and proving the existence of the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Parts of these chapters can get a little dry, because geology is really, really boring. Until it is not. Some sections, however, were fascinating, especially the historical detective work that connected Japan’s “orphan tsunami” of 1700 to the Cascadia fault. Thompson clearly put a ton of work into Cascadia’s Fault. He worked on the project for years, and interviewed a lot of people firsthand. This is a book that feels knowledgeable. Importantly, he does a credible job taking the thornier geologic concepts and translating them into something a layperson can understand. The oddest thing about Cascadia’s Fault is its muted sense of alarm. When you pick this up, you figure that there’s going to be a pretty dire doomsday scenario presented for review. After all, the cover of the book features the concentric rings radiating from Cascadia’s epicenter; the rings look an awful lot like a target aimed squarely at our grunge-and-corporatized-coffee headquarters. Despite sounding the alarm for years (Thompson made a documentary on the subject in 2008), he is rather sanguine about matters. Maybe that’s why this book didn’t hold me in quite the same way as Schultz’s article. I think it needed a little dash of We’re all going to die!!!, rather than Thompson’s rather tepid conclusion of Well, at least they put up some tsunami evacuation signs. In any event, there are actually several books to choose from on this topic. Thompson’s book is perfectly adequate. It is easy to read, it is well informed, it does an excellent job showing how scientists solve problems, and is as much a history/geology lesson as it is a clarion call to evacuate the west coast. All this is to say that Schultz’s article didn’t stumble upon this ominous situation; she just happened to be an eloquent Cassandra with a very big bullhorn.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nick T. Borrelli

    Simply an excellent read. If you ever wanted to know everything there is to know about earthquakes and the dangers they pose, this is the one book you should read. And it's entertaining as heck too.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie Christine

    My fellow residents of the Pacific Northwest: Be afraid. Be very afraid. There is a ticking time bomb beneath our feet. It could detonate tonight or in one hundred years. Who knows? There are smart geologists working hard to answer that question, but prediction science is a lot of tilting at windmills. Still, this is fascinating stuff. Jerry Thompson takes us on an armchair tour through seismic activity of the ring of fire, starting with Mexico City in 1985, a jump back to Alaska, 1964 and on thr My fellow residents of the Pacific Northwest: Be afraid. Be very afraid. There is a ticking time bomb beneath our feet. It could detonate tonight or in one hundred years. Who knows? There are smart geologists working hard to answer that question, but prediction science is a lot of tilting at windmills. Still, this is fascinating stuff. Jerry Thompson takes us on an armchair tour through seismic activity of the ring of fire, starting with Mexico City in 1985, a jump back to Alaska, 1964 and on through the recent double tragedies of earthquake and tsunami in Japan, 2011. He drills down from the massive Ring of Fire to focus on the Cascadia Subduction zone that runs from Vancouver Island to Northern California, how it was discovered, and what can happen when It decides to cut loose with The Big One. There is a baffling absence of maps. I live here, so I know the Northwest references, but what about everyone else? Not to mention the many sites outside the PNW: Central and South America, the South Pacific, Alaska, Japan, Southeast Asia...inexcusable not to show the plate and subduction zone formations, either. I live on a peninsula that juts into the Puget Sound on one end, the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the other, bordered on a third side by two bays. Water in three directions. We'd be pretty well screwed if it weren't for the fact that higher ground is to our southwest: the Olympic Mountains. Our beaches sport tsunami sirens, the country roads have tsunami evacuation notices--every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. downtown life is interrupted briefly by the chilling sound of the siren drill. Good thing I do hill repeats on my bike. When the rumbling starts, I'll shove the cat in her carrier, get on my bike and start peddling, uphill.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Richard Buro

    The short version first . . . The world changed for many of us during the Christmas holidays of 2004. It was during that time that a devastating earthquake occurred off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The quake was one of the largest in recorded history, with a death count measured at around 240,000, primarily from the effects of the tsunami waves created as the result of this earthquake, also classified as a subduction zone, megathrust earthquake. The link gathered from the Incorp The short version first . . . The world changed for many of us during the Christmas holidays of 2004. It was during that time that a devastating earthquake occurred off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The quake was one of the largest in recorded history, with a death count measured at around 240,000, primarily from the effects of the tsunami waves created as the result of this earthquake, also classified as a subduction zone, megathrust earthquake. The link gathered from the Incorporated Institutions for Research in Seismology, gives the reader a brief summary of the megathrust earthquakes that have occurred around the world since the first recognized one in Chile, 1960. The only other one that severely affected North America and the United States occurred in Alaska during the Easter holidays of 1964. In almost all cases these earthquakes have the incredible magnitudes above a 9.0 on the Moment Magnitude Scale. The MMS was created in 1979 to serve as a replacement for the Richter magnitude scale devised in 1935 is latest version of the preferred way human scientists use in describing an earthquake’s power that is consistent in scientific comparisons with other earthquakes. The megathrust earthquakes are unique in several ways. First the location of these destructive events take place in the locations where oceanic tectonic plates are moving under the lighter structures of the continental tectonic plates. These points of contact are known as subduction zones because the oceanic plates are moved under the lighter tectonic plates of the continents. There are thousands of feet contained in each one of these types of tectonic plates, and they are principally made up of the various types of crust found forming the outer layer of our planet. The problem with the process is that the enormity of the plates, their relative softness and their different compositions create friction and, in some cases, result in places where the plates seize up resulting in a locus of no or very little movement With enough of these sticky spots stopping the subduction, stress is built up over time. At some future moment, these points of stress will be released resulting in a sudden movement of one or both plates. The problem of the subduction zone quakes is the fact that rather than slipping side to side, they have a nearly horizontal movement axis, which makes the plates move more over and under that side to side. The resulting initial movement can cause a vertical drop of several feet to several yards in addition to the rapid thrust side to side of the entire area being relieved of its stress. The worst of these earthquakes happen when one section of stress is relieved, thus having the effects of acting like a “zipper,” releasing the stress in other areas that have been building up stress as well. In the case of the 2004 event in Sumatra, the entire subduction zone released a vertical lift of several meters of sea floor along the entire extent of the subduction zone involved, basically several thousands of meters (kilometers), all moving over the period of about 5 – 10 minutes. The resulting column of water (several kilometers from the ocean’s floor to the surface, moved at the speed of a jet airliner across the bulk of the small bodies of water around nearby islands, and simultaneously across the entire Indian Ocean from its eastern extent to the coast of Africa in the span of several hours. The devastation of the waves was captured on various forms of video that you have probably seen since these events were well documented, and even represented in a film called “The Impossible.” The real images from the scene as it developed are more indicative of the horror and the chaos from the actual events as they unfolded. So what does this have to do with Cascadia, and where is Cascadia? The Cascadia Subduction Zone starts at the point where California’s San Andres fault migrates from its north – south orientation and moves more northwest into the Pacific Ocean. About 50 miles or so out from the coast, the Cascadia Subduction Zone starts and runs the better part of 800-900 miles to Vancouver Island, moving past Northern California, Oregon, Washington State, and British Columbia in its trek to the point where it gets involved with Alaska’s variety of faults and subduction zones of its own. The book under review looks at the history of continental drift and its successor, tectonic plate theory, as the main geophysical force that we can observe and need to heed for our successful negotiation of existence on our restless planet. The idea of the subduction zone was found over several decades of dedicated geology, geophysics, and at least three other large megathrust subduction zone earthquakes involving Chile in 1960, the most severe earthquake ever measured with a 9.5 magnitude recorded. This was followed in 1964 with the Alaskan 9.1 earthquake over the Easter holidays, and another (one of several) in Japan. It took almost half a century of diligent research, patient analysis, modeling, using the latest in technology for data analysis, physical modeling, and gathering innumerable samples for radiologic, microscopic, nautical, test chambers of various types, and a review of mathematics from over the world to finally declare that the Cascadia Subduction Zone was indeed just that with the possible implications that it had for all of the cities and towns by which it passed just off shore. The sobering fact is that this particular event which is just over 315 years since its last major event basic on a consolidation of all the data surrounding the people all over the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire. The bottom line is all of the research says that if you are in the Northwest United States, especially the closer you get to the Pacific Ocean, if you feel the ground move, you need to get to the highest ground, as far inland as you can get. The longer the earth moves, the shorter amount of time you have to get to high ground. It is imperative for your survival to take action to get as high as possible as rapidly as possible. The estimates are that after the ground stops moving, you have as little as eight minutes before the first of several waves strike, with each succeeding wave getting larger than the last, up to as many as ten total waves in the series. The water could be as shallow as a couple of feet above high tide to as much as 30 to 50 feet above high tide. This book is not one to scare you, but it is one to heed from its lessons and its compelling science that says that this is a serious threat to the Pacific Northwestern coast of the United States. It will also have ramifications as far as the Western Pacific sides of the Asia continent as well. The theoretical information suggests that these events will be like a Katrina in every major city of the Northwest United States and British Columbia. The ground shaking alone may last as much as 5 minutes total for the main shock, with many aftershocks. The thing to remember is that you can survive, but high ground is what you need to be planning for anytime you are out and about in that region of the country. Jerry Thompson has done a significant amount of research as is noted by the index and sources cited in the end of his work as well as his illustrations, trables, and other information provided. Having a accomplished non-fiction science author as Simon Winchester to write the Introduction, is a definite plus as well. In his prime source interviews with the principal investigators for the various colleges and universities where the research is ongoing as well as his gathering data from all of the demonstrable previously reported and record megathrust subduction zone earthquakes lend a tremendous amount of veracity to his technical arguments as well as their expertise in the fields that make these scientists and researchers, the best jury to vet the nature of this threat and its plausible threat to our northwestern States. Recommendations: The book is clearly a five out of five stars, and an absolulte must read by any and all who are involved with civil defense, scientific analysis of data, first responders, health care officials, planners, civil engineers, and anyone with anything to do with government and tourism in the Pacific Northwest needs to be aware of and heed the warnings about this situation. Cascadia has not had a major event at any time in the historic record, but there are obscure but available writings, oral traditions, and other forms of data that can show you that the time approaches when the possibility will no longer be a let’s wait and see, but let’s also prepare for a coming event with dire ramifications for loved ones and ourselves if we do not heed the recommendations that are brought out in these pages. There is a mounting amount of data supporting each discipline and interlacing the whole to bring a sense of urgency to the call, be prepared. In this case, if you feel ground movement, particularly more than a span of 2 minutes straight of motion, then you are in the event that is predicted in this work. If that is the case, you have three things to do, get your kids, get your pets, and head for the hills and mountains to your east away from the Pacific shore. You have less than 10 minutes to save what is most precious to you. Take care of your safety first. Cascadia is a true threat to your family and your safety. Be prepared to save all that you can, starting with the lives of you and your family first. Also, don’t time to recognize the draw back of the ocean and all that blank beach, it means the tsunami is already there, approaching the coast now at speeds up to 200-300 miles per hour. You have no lime left, get as high as you can, as fast as you can. Schools want to consider this as a part of their parental outreach for family safety, if nothing else. Planning for solidly constructed tsunami evacuation shelters, or other ways to reach out to help parents know that their children are safe with you. This is a wake up call, and one which probably needs to be heeded with a bit more urgency than the Yellowstone supervolcano. It has been quiet for 640,000 years. Cascadia’s last megathrust rupture was in January or February of 1700, based on the best evidence available all across the Pacific Rim. Read this book, in case you need convincing. It is eye-opening as well as dire in so many ways, it will make you want to take action yesterday! Review of Jerry Thompson's Cascadia's Fault:The Coming Earthquake and Tsunami That Could Devastate North America by Richard W. Buro is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on a work at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11296815-cascadia-s-fault. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Send email to permissions@counterpointpress.com.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Maybe I'm too close to the subject of this book to fairly evaluate it. I've lived all my adult life within within the area impacted by the Cascadia Fault Zone. Much of the research Thompson reports was done by academics associated with Oregon State and Humboldt State, two universities I attended. I can visualize most of the places he describes. Cascadia's Fault is largely about the research that uncovered a 10,000 year history of huge earthquakes off the coasts of Oregon and Washington, earthqua Maybe I'm too close to the subject of this book to fairly evaluate it. I've lived all my adult life within within the area impacted by the Cascadia Fault Zone. Much of the research Thompson reports was done by academics associated with Oregon State and Humboldt State, two universities I attended. I can visualize most of the places he describes. Cascadia's Fault is largely about the research that uncovered a 10,000 year history of huge earthquakes off the coasts of Oregon and Washington, earthquakes that arrive every 300 to 500 years with the last one in 1700. Thompson presents the evolving science in an interesting and accessible way. I really had trouble putting the book down. While he does an excellent job of scaring the bejeezus out of you, there is more to the book than that. Thompson finishes with useful information on what we can do on both a personal and community level to save lives. If you live in California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia or Alaska this book is really worth your time. Even if you live elsewhere, knowing more about earthquakes and tsunamis could save your life.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Northern West Coast friends: escape while you can. Recently ran a tabletop exercise on this topic with FEMA (etc.) top brass and I can confidently assure you that everyone is aware and no one is prepared.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Schwan

    I had heard stories about the expected outcome of the book (a typical earthquake on the Cascadia Fault Zone). The book is tedious in places (and needed to be) and ultimately gives us a compresenive history of the science of the Cascadia Fault Zone. The 1964 Alaska earthquake looks to be a minor quake in terms of damage (and the San Andreas is puny in comparision). While living in the Pacific Northwest is risky due to Volcanic activity and Earthquakes it seems that Tsunami's also rank high on the I had heard stories about the expected outcome of the book (a typical earthquake on the Cascadia Fault Zone). The book is tedious in places (and needed to be) and ultimately gives us a compresenive history of the science of the Cascadia Fault Zone. The 1964 Alaska earthquake looks to be a minor quake in terms of damage (and the San Andreas is puny in comparision). While living in the Pacific Northwest is risky due to Volcanic activity and Earthquakes it seems that Tsunami's also rank high on the list. Not as doomsday as the newspaper and and other articles generated from the book, but surely a good reminder of how geologically active the Earth still is.

  8. 5 out of 5

    jeremy

    as fascinating as it is alarming, cascadia's fault tells the story of the cascadia subduction zone, a geologically and seismologically active area stretching from northern california into british columbia. as the juan de fuca tectonic plate continues its eastward slip beneath the north american plate, the convergence will eventually lead to disaster for the major cities and coastal towns of the pacific northwest. as an active fault zone that has spurred numerous megathrust earthquakes over many as fascinating as it is alarming, cascadia's fault tells the story of the cascadia subduction zone, a geologically and seismologically active area stretching from northern california into british columbia. as the juan de fuca tectonic plate continues its eastward slip beneath the north american plate, the convergence will eventually lead to disaster for the major cities and coastal towns of the pacific northwest. as an active fault zone that has spurred numerous megathrust earthquakes over many millennia, it is only a matter of time before the plates unlock themselves once again in a series of catastrophic temblors. for the past twenty-five years, canadian journalist jerry thompson has been tracking the scientific advancements in the earthquake geology of the pacific northwest. cascadia's fault, despite its somewhat misleading subtitle, focuses mostly on the ever-evolving developments in understanding the subduction zone's history and future. as plate tectonics began to surplant the once-dominant theory of continental drift, it became ever more evident that the cascadia subduction zone not only was able of producing powerful earthquakes, but it had, in fact, been doing so for thousands of years. cascadia's fault recounts the major advancements in the recent science relating to the area, and foretells of a day when another major earthquake (perhaps a 9 or 9.5 magnitude) will strike again. victoria, vancouver, seattle, portland, sacramento, and towns in between are likely to suffer cataclysmic damage during and after the inevitable quake, and coastal communities will be ravaged and destroyed from the ensuing tsunamis (predicted to reach heights of perhaps one hundred feet). for perspective and to help clarify the science, thompson includes chapters on other recently devastating earthquakes and their resulting tsunamis from around the pacific ring of fire, including the march 2011 9.0 magnitude tōhoku quake in japan, the christchurch earthquake a month earlier, the 8.8 chilean temblor in 2010, and the 9.3 sumatran quake in december 2004. thompson reiterates the need for better earthquake and tsunami preparedness for the entire pacific northwest region, as preparation, thus far, has been woefully inadequate for a disaster as epic as this one will likely be. in a final chapter entitled, "cascadia's fault: day of reckoning," thompson lays bare, in graphic and horrifying detail, likely real-time scenarios of what may happen when the "big one" finally hits the pnw (collapsing bridges and buildings, rampant fires, ruptured water and gas lines, crippled infrastructure, deadly rock and mudslides, overwhelmed and unresponsive emergency services, etc.). cascadia's fault is an obviously well-researched book, and it is clear that thompson takes the subject seriously (especially as a resident of the pacific northwest himself). as predictive modeling is currently unable to forecast earthquakes with any effective degree of accuracy, geologists and seismologists continue on with their research (as many state and local governments all but ignore the inevitability of what's to come). it appears a cascadian megathrust earthquake likely appears every 500 years or so, and with the last major recorded event having occurred in january of 1700, the next one could, quite literally, arrive anytime between this evening and the next couple of hundred years. if there is a single point that thompson seems to drive home (with the lessons and consequences of the aforementioned earthquakes still so painfully apparent), it's simply that greater preparedness will not only save countless lives, but also mitigate the nearly inconceivable destruction that draws nearer every day.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    This book is very informative. The author has done a great job as a story teller explaining the scientific evidence of the potential of a massive earthquake in the Pacific Northwest. The odds are it will happen within our life time. Being a residence in the Pacific Northwest, this serves a good reminder of the potential major earthquake that would hit this area. In this book, you will learn about plate tectonics, a scientific theory that was established only relatively recently and the discovery This book is very informative. The author has done a great job as a story teller explaining the scientific evidence of the potential of a massive earthquake in the Pacific Northwest. The odds are it will happen within our life time. Being a residence in the Pacific Northwest, this serves a good reminder of the potential major earthquake that would hit this area. In this book, you will learn about plate tectonics, a scientific theory that was established only relatively recently and the discovery of the Cascadia Subduction Zone. A slab of the Pacific Ocean floor called the Juan de Fuca plate which runs from northern California to California is sliding eastward underneath the continental plate of North America. While the region appears to be quiet seismically, due to the fact that historical record of this region is relatively short, scientists have in fact discovered that giant earthquakes did in fact has happened in the past. Not just once, but over and over again in geological time. This region is part of the "Ring of Fire", including Chile, Alaska, Mexico and Japan where they all have major earthquakes happened in very recent history. Some parts of the book contains a lot of technical details and readers might find it tedious to read. However, I am intrigued by the journey of the scientists in finding about the subduction zone, including the part where they traced back to the exact date of the last massive earthquake in 1700, not from this region but from written records in Japan. I've lived in Northern California for over 10 years in the past but this book still gave me a lot of good information about earthquake and raised my awareness The author also produced a documentary called "Shockwave" which I found it very informative.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    I went to college in Oregon, and on the first day of school, they gave us an earthquake evacuation plan. Being from Minnesota, I looked at them like they were nuts (though I later learned we can get them in Minnesota). Three semesters of geology later, I was fascinated by the Cascadia Fault (in that morbid, I won't be living here soon way). This book was an excellent explanation of the discovery of the fault, projected damages that could occur, and the beginning of plans being laid to help mitig I went to college in Oregon, and on the first day of school, they gave us an earthquake evacuation plan. Being from Minnesota, I looked at them like they were nuts (though I later learned we can get them in Minnesota). Three semesters of geology later, I was fascinated by the Cascadia Fault (in that morbid, I won't be living here soon way). This book was an excellent explanation of the discovery of the fault, projected damages that could occur, and the beginning of plans being laid to help mitigate future effects. The hospital in the town where I went to school was being completely rebuilt, so I can see the plan moving into effect. It was written by a journalist, not a geologist, but he interviewed many of the most prestigious and well known geologists on the west coast. I think the author really got into his work, and I thought he did a nice job explaining some seriously complex geologic processes. Probably doesn't hurt he lives within the area that could be severely damaged should "the big one" as it's known, hit. I highly recommend this book to everyone in the danger zone, and to everyone who loves geology. It's definitely an interesting read about this little known lurking time bomb off the Pacific Coast. It's especially timely since there have been major earthquakes in each of the 4 corners of the Pacific recently as well. I often wonder if that has any impact on other plates when there are huge earthquakes that shake the whole planet and cause it to tilt...

  11. 4 out of 5

    E Goldberg

    Full of journalistic hyperbole (animals are not just dead, they 'reek') and an irritating repetition of every number in both US units (inches, pounds etc) and metric. Makes for a bumpy and slightly seasick read. Can you believe there is even a conversion for 'chain's: "In those days most surveyors still used sixty-six-foot chains (eighty chains to the mile, or about fifty to the kilometer).." Not sure what imaginary purpose this PC salute to units serves. People in Canada probably deal mainly in Full of journalistic hyperbole (animals are not just dead, they 'reek') and an irritating repetition of every number in both US units (inches, pounds etc) and metric. Makes for a bumpy and slightly seasick read. Can you believe there is even a conversion for 'chain's: "In those days most surveyors still used sixty-six-foot chains (eighty chains to the mile, or about fifty to the kilometer).." Not sure what imaginary purpose this PC salute to units serves. People in Canada probably deal mainly in metric, and here in the USA, almost everyone is bilingual in feet/yards/miles and meters/kilometers (can Canadians say the same?), so go ahead Mr Thompson: Wow us with your metric marvellosity, and dump the 'fps' units! (Maybe you need a better editor?) In spite of the over-excited cum 'documentary TV style' tone of the book, it provides many highly technical references in the bibliography, but not a mention of the much better written book by Philip Fradkin, "Magnitude 8" which would be more accessible to the average reader.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I have three things to note after reading this interesting book. First, I am thankful that I lived in the Pacific Northwest for five years, as this provided me some foundation for knowing the places discussed in the book. While clearly available online, a quick reference map in the book would be helpful. And there were reference maps, but while the text mentioned many different mountains, cities, bays, etc, the most "local" map had but a few of these locations. Second, I was surprised that this I have three things to note after reading this interesting book. First, I am thankful that I lived in the Pacific Northwest for five years, as this provided me some foundation for knowing the places discussed in the book. While clearly available online, a quick reference map in the book would be helpful. And there were reference maps, but while the text mentioned many different mountains, cities, bays, etc, the most "local" map had but a few of these locations. Second, I was surprised that this work developed along the historical research that has been conducted into the fault. I had expected a focus on similar historical events leading to an analysis of the potential destruction from a quake. I enjoyed reading and learning about the different sources that geologists use to determine the nature and frequency of past quakes, particularly those of the Cascadia Fault. However, part of me now thinks, "I will never visit Seattle again."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Who knew that plate tectonics wasn't around until as late as 1964? This book is a walk through the history of geological science. The general population only realized that the Pacific Northwest was a potentially threatening area in 1987. I just moved to Tacoma in 2011, with the vague knowledge that it was an active area, but no idea how high the risk was exactly. This book is clearing that right up for me. No conspiracy theory, no hype. Just a journalist who has been on the trail of this story f Who knew that plate tectonics wasn't around until as late as 1964? This book is a walk through the history of geological science. The general population only realized that the Pacific Northwest was a potentially threatening area in 1987. I just moved to Tacoma in 2011, with the vague knowledge that it was an active area, but no idea how high the risk was exactly. This book is clearing that right up for me. No conspiracy theory, no hype. Just a journalist who has been on the trail of this story for 25 years, feeling that after the Japan quake in March 2011, someone ought to sound the alarm. I am hearing it! I'll let you know more after I finish it...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Jean

    Very informative book. Perhaps too informative. This book focuses on the research that led to the discovery and confirmation of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, with some time spent on what this type of geologic impact will actually mean for humans living in Cascadia. For a person who will be directly impacted by such an event, I was more interested in the latter. There is good information in here, especially if you live in the Pacific Northwest, but you may be able to find a more succinct way to f Very informative book. Perhaps too informative. This book focuses on the research that led to the discovery and confirmation of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, with some time spent on what this type of geologic impact will actually mean for humans living in Cascadia. For a person who will be directly impacted by such an event, I was more interested in the latter. There is good information in here, especially if you live in the Pacific Northwest, but you may be able to find a more succinct way to find what you want to know.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John Musser

    This is an important warning to west coasters like me, however, I skipped the middle ten chapters out of frustration with the lack of visuals (diagrams, etc.). It was just too difficult to digest the descriptions of geological principals without them. Granted, I was reading the ebook edition which I suspect had the visuals stripped-out from the hardcopy. (It was also a public library ebook edition so maybe visuals are just stripped-out that edition to lower the cost?). Otherwise, this is a very This is an important warning to west coasters like me, however, I skipped the middle ten chapters out of frustration with the lack of visuals (diagrams, etc.). It was just too difficult to digest the descriptions of geological principals without them. Granted, I was reading the ebook edition which I suspect had the visuals stripped-out from the hardcopy. (It was also a public library ebook edition so maybe visuals are just stripped-out that edition to lower the cost?). Otherwise, this is a very well written book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Berman

    We're all doomed! This book outlines the detective work used to identify a history of major earthquakes off the coast of Washington and Oregon, and it's truly fascinating. And terrifying. We're doomed...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bruce Giordano

    Very interesting book on the Cascadia Fault. An earthquake is coming here. Maybe next week or maybe not for another 200 years. When it arrives though it will be like the one in Sumatra or worse.

  18. 4 out of 5

    April Kelcy

    Absolutely excellent for an understanding of the history of the Cascadia Subduction Zone research, all expressed in a vivid and easy to understand style. The book was published in mid-2011, so there are additional events and findings since then, but this is still such a good foundation that most people will likely benefit from reading it before updating. The CSZ is definitely a monster and people and communities definitely need to take it very seriously. It was also fun to actually read the names Absolutely excellent for an understanding of the history of the Cascadia Subduction Zone research, all expressed in a vivid and easy to understand style. The book was published in mid-2011, so there are additional events and findings since then, but this is still such a good foundation that most people will likely benefit from reading it before updating. The CSZ is definitely a monster and people and communities definitely need to take it very seriously. It was also fun to actually read the names of some of the people I know,. In general terms it also caused me to think more about the way science advances, and how much chutzpah it can sometimes take for researchers to buck the "established" way of thinking about certain things. I'm grateful for those who spoke up about what they were finding and what they thought their findings meant. One of the most interesting comments was about how the public doesn't want to be communicated with by scientists in the same way scientists talk to each other. This is a "song I've been singing" for a LONG time! (Designed and delivered workshops in better public speaking for scientists and emergency managers.)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sonya

    An extremely well researched, well written, and interesting book. I had watched the Shockwave documentary before reading this, not realizing until he mentioned it in the book that was his work as well. This is a great companion read to the documentary and great read on its own merit. Due to time constraints it took me awhile to finish it, but if I had been able to forego sleep and work this would have been a one more chapter until I reached the end. I can give no higher praise than that. I highly An extremely well researched, well written, and interesting book. I had watched the Shockwave documentary before reading this, not realizing until he mentioned it in the book that was his work as well. This is a great companion read to the documentary and great read on its own merit. Due to time constraints it took me awhile to finish it, but if I had been able to forego sleep and work this would have been a one more chapter until I reached the end. I can give no higher praise than that. I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in natural disasters, especially the history of how science has learned and grown since the early days of plate tectonics.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Konet

    The ring of fire is a big deal and has caused a lot of damage around the globe. Cascadia fault is part of the ring of fire and starts in NW Canada and stretches to southern Oregon (?), but effects can be felt in SoCal. Well this has me scared shitless. Plus the doom and gloom of San Andreas fault. I don't know if this book sensationalized earthquakes or not but it has me concerned! I want to know more about earthquake science and be prepared, but the devastation sounds scary as hell. Definitely h The ring of fire is a big deal and has caused a lot of damage around the globe. Cascadia fault is part of the ring of fire and starts in NW Canada and stretches to southern Oregon (?), but effects can be felt in SoCal. Well this has me scared shitless. Plus the doom and gloom of San Andreas fault. I don't know if this book sensationalized earthquakes or not but it has me concerned! I want to know more about earthquake science and be prepared, but the devastation sounds scary as hell. Definitely has me thinking and paranoid! OMG! Good to know your area!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    tl;dr: Everybody on the West Coast of North America (from Mexico to Canada) is screwed. This is a good summary of the evolution of earthquake science and how the Cascadia Fault came to be such a dark shadow. As a native Portland resident, I've heard a lot about the impending earthquake that is going to level our bridges, topple our buildings and basically send us back to the stone ages. Maybe it will be today, maybe tomorrow, maybe not for another 100 years, but it seems the big one is on the way tl;dr: Everybody on the West Coast of North America (from Mexico to Canada) is screwed. This is a good summary of the evolution of earthquake science and how the Cascadia Fault came to be such a dark shadow. As a native Portland resident, I've heard a lot about the impending earthquake that is going to level our bridges, topple our buildings and basically send us back to the stone ages. Maybe it will be today, maybe tomorrow, maybe not for another 100 years, but it seems the big one is on the way.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Good Information on Earthquakes and Tsunamis This was a book I very much wanted to read, especially since it concerns our Pacific NW. It took me much longer to read this book as it was filled with technical language. I found the book interesting but must admit that I didn’t understand all of it. Still I understood enough to know that we may never understand all about earthquakes and Tsunamis, or be able to predict them. But hopefully we can learn enough to prepare our people and save as many as p Good Information on Earthquakes and Tsunamis This was a book I very much wanted to read, especially since it concerns our Pacific NW. It took me much longer to read this book as it was filled with technical language. I found the book interesting but must admit that I didn’t understand all of it. Still I understood enough to know that we may never understand all about earthquakes and Tsunamis, or be able to predict them. But hopefully we can learn enough to prepare our people and save as many as possible.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kendra Goldberg

    Really fascinating book that goes beyond the doomsday scenarios. Jerry Thompson dives into the driving urge of geologists to understand how the world works and their dogged quest to understand the landscapes of the West Coast and the forces acting on this region. Rather than feeling freaked out and upset I was caught up in the passionate debates and battles of ego that happened in Geology between the 1950's and the present day.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Everyone living on the west coast should read this book. An extremely interesting account of how as geology progressed from the mid 1900s to today, scientists went from treating the Cascadia Subduction Zone (off the coast of Vancouver Island to Northern CA) as a non-issue to potentially one of the biggest natural disasters the US and Canada could face in history.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    This book gives a clear explanation of how the earth's crust, mountains, earthquakes, and volcanoes all work together to shape the earth. It does all that with engaging stories including oral tradition, detailed Japanese records from the late 1600s and early 1700s and geology going back 10,000 years. It does all that with the feel of a fast paced detective story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Judy Davey

    Very good, very scary...I researched a lot of this info after the Japan earthquake & tsunami of 2011. This is even more comprehensive. In 2011 we lived in Florence Oregon on the Oregon Coast. We moved inland 2 months after the earthquake. We now live in eastern WA. Everyone in the West US should read this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Anyone interested in the Pangaea to Amasia will be fascinated with the tectonic plates and how they are moving to create a monumental problem in the Northwest. May not be soon but could be at anytime. The story of how the men who actually discovered and proved their theories about the geological movements is riveting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Peter M

    I read another book on this subject, The Next Great Tsunami, and Cascadia's Fault is a natural follow up. I own a home in Seaside, Oregon and live in suburban Portland, Oregon. Both places will be devastated by the massive Cascadia earthquake and resulting tsunami. While I am aware of the danger, I don't worry about it. Maybe because I'm almost 82 years old! Read chapter 24.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    Riveting and informative! This excellently-researched and well-written book covers the diagnosis of what truly lies within the Cascadia Subduction Zone and what threats the CSZ presents to coasts and cities. Ultimately optimistic on outcomes, if we can educate and prepare properly.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pat Beard

    Fast read, engrossing page turner, I hope that the folks in the areas that are involved will have time to become adequately prepared - at least as much as they can be. It is such a beautiful part of the country. I've often wished I could live there. Not so much now.

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