We just live here, folks. We’re just fleas on an elephant’s ass:
No one should be surprised if a magnitude-9 megaquake erupts off America’s West Coast — or anywhere else around the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire,” for that matter.
That’s the upshot of a study in October’s issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America: Researchers say that computer models of future seismic activity, plus a check of past activity going back thousand of years, suggest most of the Pacific’s earthquake zones are capable of generating shocks at least as strong as magnitude 9 every 10,000 years on average.
Seismologists were surprised in 2004 when a magnitude-9.3 quake and tsunami devastated Sumatra and caused more than 200,000 deaths around the Pacific Rim. They were surprised again in 2011 by Japan’s 9.0 quake and tsunami, which killed more 15,000 people and touched off a nuclear catastrophe that continues to this day.
In each case, experts didn’t think the area where one geological plate is diving beneath another — known as a subduction zone — was capable of generating a quake that strong.