The Cascadia Subduction Zone

The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful regions in the country (though we may be biased). It boasts towering mountains and rolling hills, countless waterfalls and stunning rock formations. These features are thanks, in part, to our proximity to the boundary between two tectonic plates: the North American Plate and the Juan de Fuca plate. Tectonic and volcanic forces build up rugged rock masses that are carved into steep valleys by rivers fed by Pacific Ocean moisture. They also pose hazards to the region's residents. Understanding and preparing for regional hazards is part of thriving wherever you live.

Animation showing how subduction leads to giant earthquakes and tsunamis

Part of the Juan de Fuca plate is currently stuck against the North American plate, as in the animation above. When the plates finally get unstuck, a giant earthquake and tsunami will ensue.

This one-hour documentary offers a great summary of some of the big issues at stake in the Pacific Northwest and draws lessons from Japan's experience in 2011.

Where Can I Learn More?

There are many great resources on how to prepare for earthquakes and other regional hazards, like You can also become a Community Emergency Response Team member so you can help save lives in a disaster. The City of Portland, OR offers free training for the equivalent Neighborhood Emergency Teams.