Earthquakes in the past few thousand years have left signs of land-level change, tsunamis, and shaking along the Pacific coast at the Cascadia subduction zone. Sudden lowering of land accounts for many of the buried marsh and forest soils at estuaries between southern British Columbia and northern California. Sand layers on some of these soils imply that tsunamis were triggered by some of the events that lowered the land. Liquefaction features show that inland shaking accompanied sudden coastal subsidence at the Washington-Oregon border about 300 years ago. The combined evidence for subsidence, tsunamis, and shaking shows that earthquakes of magnitude 8 or larger have occurred on the boundary between the overriding North America plate and the downgoing Juan de Fuca and Gorda plates. Intervals between the earthquakes are poorly known because of uncertainties about the number and ages of the earthquakes. Current estimates for individual intervals at specific coastal sites range from a few centuries to about one thousand years.
Summary of Coastal Geologic Evidence for past Great Earthquakes at the Cascadia Subduction Zone
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Brian F. Atwater, Alan R. Nelson, John J. Clague, Gary A. Carver, David K. Yamaguchi, Peter T. Bobrowsky, Joanne Bourgeois, Mark E. Darienzo, Wendy C. Grant, Eileen Hemphill-Haley, Harvey M. Kelsey, Gordon C. Jacoby, Stuart P. Nishenko, Stephen P. Palmer, Curt D. Peterson, Mary Ann Reinhart; Summary of Coastal Geologic Evidence for past Great Earthquakes at the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Earthquake Spectra 1995;; 11 (1): 1–18. doi: https://doi.org/10.1193/1.1585800
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