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Seismic fault beneath us is ‘fully loaded’ after 311 years

January 28, 2011 Comments off

Julie Muhlstein, Herald Columnist

As if you didn’t have enough worries, here is one more to add to that massive list:

“It’s been 300 years,” Bill Steele said Tuesday. “We have a fully loaded subduction zone.”

Actually, it’s been 311 years since the .

Steele, a University of Washington seismologist and spokesman for the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, said scientists have determined the monster quake occurred Jan. 26, 1700 — 311 years ago tonight.

It happened off the Northwest coast, and created huge tsunamis that devastated shorelines here and in Japan.

What’s amazing is how much is known, considering that in 1700 there were no Europeans in the Northwest. British Capt. George Vancouver wouldn’t find his way here until 1792. The Lewis and Clark Expedition to the West didn’t start until 1804. Historians have no original account of the 1700 quake written from a Western perspective.

“There’s quite a detective story of how we know all that. It’s fantastic,” Steele said.

First, a quick explanation of what happened from the online encyclopedia HistoryLink: Read more…