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Many of us remember the quake almost 10 years ago that rocked the Seattle-Tacoma area causing much damage and leading more people to realize the magnitude of such a natural disaster hitting our area. For Seattle-dwellers, that harsh reality has always been tempered by the fact that the fault called the Cascadia Subduction Zone is most likely to snap offshore — nearly 100 miles from the urban corridor.

However now scientists are beginning to suspect the jolt could come much closer.

The latest evidence is an upcoming study in Geophysical Research Letters that concludes the danger zone could lie within 50 miles of Seattle and the Interstate 5 corridor.

The 600-mile-long subduction zone is the place where the ocean floor is being shoved, or subducted, under the continent. It’s one of the world’s most treacherous faults, capable of unleashing megaquakes and tsunamis on a par with the 2004 Sumatra disaster. Fortunately, such magnitude 9 quakes are rare in the Cascadia zone, averaging one every 400 to 500 years. The most recent occurred in 1700.


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