California earthquake: Threat of monster quake bigger than thought, researchers say

The Cascadia fault line off the northern coast of California could cause even greater destruction and death than scientists previously believed.
By Danielle Haynes  |  Updated March 17, 2014 at 9:57 AM
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Update 9:55 a.m. EDT:

An earthquake measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale hit Southern California this morning.

End update, original story follows:

Scientists said that a major earthquake along northern California's Cascadia fault could cause more destruction and death than previously thought.

The fault system, lesser-known than California's 800-mile-long San Andreas fault, runs about 700 miles off shore in the Pacific Ocean, from northern California to Vancouver Island.

The Cascadia fault was responsible for Sunday's 6.8-magnitude earthquake near Eureka, Calif., and a 7.2 quake near Crescent City in 2005.

The action is causing some researchers to believe the Cascadia fault system is far more dangerous than previously believed, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Should a 9.0-magnitude earthquake shake the northern coast of California, the resulting tsunami would wash away coastal towns, destroy 100 bridges, topple power lines and kill up to 10,000 people in what would be a $70 billion disaster.

"Katrina was a worst case scenario for hurricanes in the gulf. And a Cascadia would be the worst case scenario for tsunamis on the West Coast," said Paul Whitmore, director of the National Tsunami Warning Center in Alaska.
[Los Angeles Times]

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