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Jan 26 / Dave Schumaker

Anniversary of the Cascadia earthquake in 1700


image via Wikimedia Commons

Our pal Julian Lozos (@seismogenic on Twitter) reminds us that today is the anniversary of the ~M8.7 to M9.2 Cascadia earthquake that occurred in 1700.

The earthquake was thought to have caused a tsunami that eventually struck Japan.

The evidence suggests that it took place at about 9 p.m. on January 26, 1700 (NS). Although there were no written records in the region at the time, the earthquake’s precise time is nevertheless known from Japanese records of a tsunami that has not been tied to any other Pacific Rim earthquake. The most important clue linking the tsunami in Japan and the earthquake in the Pacific Northwest comes from studies of tree rings (dendrochronology) which show that red cedar trees killed by lowering of coastal forests into the tidal zone by the earthquake have outermost growth rings that formed in 1699, the last growing season before the tsunami. Oral traditions describing a large quake also exist among the region’s inhabitants, although these do not specify the date.

One can only imagine what would happen if a similar sized earthquake happened in the Pacific Northwest today. Andrew Alden explores it in more detail here.

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