RANsquawk Weekly Wrap - 11th January 2013

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Flakmeister's picture

And for those that thought Goldfinger was only a James Bond movie (taken from TOD)

It is true that there is good evidence that big earthquakes on the Cascadia Subduction Zone trigger events on the San Andreas Fault. However, it isn't clear that the San Andreas goes at the exact same time. I believe the thinking is that the Cascadia quake alters the regional stress field, and the San Andreas goes very soon after ("very soon" in the geological sense).

One giant simultaneous earthquake from BC into California is certainly possible. Perhaps more likely is a major earthquake in the Pacific Northwest, followed within a decade or so by a major earthquake in California. Either way, a very bad deal for those on the West Coast. Actually, as RMG points out, the resulting tsunami would be a bad deal around much of the Pacific rim.

Chris Goldfinger, a marine geologist at Oregon State, has done some of the key research showing this linkage. He mapped and dated large turbidites along the west coast. These turbidites are believed to have been triggered by major earthquakes, and are part of the evidence for the cyclicity of Cascadia quakes. Goldfinger has said:

"Every time the Cascadia or San Andreas has a large earthquake, it triggers a submarine landslide along its whole length," Goldfinger said. "So it's fairly easy to go out with a ship to take core samples, find deposits and date the samples using radioactive carbon dating.

"This process gives us a time and place of past earthquakes for the last 10,000 years. If we do this in one spot, we can get a 10,000-year record from that spot, but if we do it along a whole fault line, we can tell how big the earthquake was and whether it ruptured along the whole length of the fault or just part of it."


"The earthquake records seem very similar in both places," Goldfinger said. "[The two faults] are similar in 13 out of 15 of the last earthquakes, statistically showing that there is no difference in time, although there is a slight tendency for the Cascadia [fault] to go first."

"We think that when Cascadia ruptures, it causes stress that transfers to the San Andreas, and we think that within a few decades this triggers the San Andreas to go off. Timing is not exact; it could be hours, it could be years or it could be decades, but it is pretty close in [geological] time either way."

Joe Davola's picture

Sounds like Zorin's still trying to corner the global market on silicon microchips.