Snapshot of an animation by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center on Friday, Jan. 22, showing the simulated motion of the waves and as they race around the globe. You can see the distance between successive wave crests (wavelength) as well as their height (half-amplitude) indicated by their color. From the beginning the animation shows all coastlines covered by colored points. These are initially a blue color like the undisturbed ocean to indicate normal sea level, but as the tsunami waves reach them they will change color to represent the height of the waves coming ashore, and often these values are higher than they were in the deeper waters offshore. The color scheme is based on PTWC’s warning criteria, with blue-to-green representing no hazard (less than 30 cm or ~1 ft.), yellow-to-orange indicating low hazard with a stay-off-the-beach recommendation (30 to 100 cm or ~1 to 3 ft.), light red-to-bright red indicating significant hazard requiring evacuation (1 to 3 m or ~3 to 10 ft.), and dark red indicating a severe hazard possibly requiring a second-tier evacuation (greater than 3 m or ~10 ft.). Photo: Image, Caption By Pacific Tsunami Warning Center

Source: Seattle PI

With the East Coast buried in snow from a megastorm sparking our natural-disaster competitiveness, we on the Pacific Rim can counter with an ocean-crossing tsunami generated by a historic megathrust earthquake.

The last one that erupted along the 600-mile-long fault of the Cascadia Subduction Zone in the Northwest was at 9 p.m. on Jan. 26 in the year 1700. Hopefully the next one won’t hit any time soon, but another is due every 300-500 years. So, we can thrill in the thought of that magnificent danger!

In fact, on Friday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center published a re-enactment of the massive waves in a model animation. Here’s the explanation from the Center’s YouTube page:

By comparing the tree rings of dead trees with those still living they could tell when the last of these great earthquakes struck the region. The trees all died in the winter of 1699-1700 when the coasts of northern California, Oregon, and Washington suddenly dropped 1-2 m (3-6 ft.), flooding them with seawater. That much motion over such a large area requires a very large earthquake to explain it—perhaps as large as 9.2 magnitude, comparable to the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 [you can see photos in the gallery above].

Such an earthquake would have ruptured the earth along the entire length of the 1000 km (600 mi) -long fault of the Cascadia Subduction Zone and severe shaking could have lasted for 5 minutes or longer. Its tsunami would cross the Pacific Ocean and reach Japan in about 9 hours, so the earthquake must have occurred around 9 o’clock at night in Cascadia on January 26, 1700 (05:00 January 27 UTC).