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UW earthquake experts discuss how research is helping prepare for “The Big One”

The Cascadia subduction zone, which runs off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, holds the possibility of unleashing a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. Dubbed as “The Big One,” this earthquake is predicted to occur off-shore as one tectonic plate slides under another, releasing a wave of energy accompanied by intense shaking for several minutes.

Despite its oceanic epicenter, The Big One will have widespread inland effects with the potential of being accompanied by a devastating tsunami. Currently, University of Washington researchers – including Harold Tobin – are creating models to envision possible earthquake and tsunami scenarios, using the data to better prepare communities for this future disaster.

While natural disaster preparedness is key, the large time gaps between earthquakes in Washington have left many residents complacent. Experts advise all to take advantage of ShakeAlert, an early earthquake warning system, practice earthquake drills and have a packed go-bag stocked with essential items to prepare for the arrival of The Big One.

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