Monster Quake: Chile

Monster Quake: Chile


On February 27, 2010, the fifth most powerful earthquake ever recorded hit less than 115 kilometres away from Chile’s second biggest city, Concepción. Measuring a devastating 8.8 on the Richter scale, the megaquake was not only a terrifying experience for those in Concepción… it was also a massive wake-up call for cities all along the Pacific Northwest coastline, from the U.S. through Canada. What would happen if a similar magnitude earthquake were to hit Seattle, Vancouver or Portland? The threat is real.

In the Pacific Northwest, the next megaquake’s origins lie in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a 1,200 kilometre-long fault that runs parallel to the coast from British Columbia to Northern California. The zone is where the oceanic Juan de Fuca Plate plunges under the Continental North America Plate, only about 100-250 kilometres offshore. If the plates stick as they move past each other – and evidence indicates that this already happening – tremendous energy will build and likely be released

in a terrifying explosion, potentially a magnitude-9 megaquake event. 

What kind of widespread and devastating damage would result from a megaquake in these North American cities? Would bridges, schools and hospitals be as hard hit as those in Chile? Right now teams of top scientists and engineers from California, Washington State and British Columbia are on the ground in Chile, sifting through the devastation and gathering crucial first-hand data. Joining these forensic engineers and seismologists in the field, MONSTER QUAKE: WILL WE SURVIVE? reveals what the scientists are learning – as they learn it – about how to prepare for the Pacific megaquake that these experts believe is just a matter of time.