Scientists turn to Alaska over fears active fault-line could cause Japan-style tsunami that could devastate California and Hawaii

DailyMail.co.uk
Wed, 16 May 2012 11:02 CDT
Scientists say a fault-line running across Alaska could cause tsunamis of the same magnitude as the Japanese disaster of March last year. Attention has turned to the Alaskan-Aleutian subduction zone, a region where one of the earth’s tectonic plate, carrying the Pacific Ocean, drops beneath the North American plate.A particular section of the fault near the Semidi Islands has not ruptured since at least 1788, and measurements on this area – which lies four to five kilometres under water – reveal the pressure is accumulating rapidly. If the Pacific Ocean plate slips, as happened in the geographically-similar Tohoku subduction zone off the coast of Japan, a tsunami could occur – and the deaths could happen as far away as Hawaii and California.

© Google
The Semidi Islands lie close to the faultline, and an earthquake could send a tsunami towards Hawaii and California

According to Discovery.com, scientists are now investigating the underwater fault-line in the hope of estimating the likelihood of danger to the U.S. and to the Hawaiian islands.

The last time a slip between the Alaskan plates occurred led to the Good Friday Earthquake, on March 27, 1964, which was the powerful earthquake in U.S. history – a 9.2 magnitude earthquake which led to 145 deaths.

Tsunamis also occurred in this area in 1947 and 1957, while a magnitude 7.4 earthquake occurred in the area last June, but as its location did not lead to a tsunami, a brief tsunami warning was recalled shortly afterwards.

Many of these deaths happened hundreds of miles away from the epicentre of the earthquake – with 90 per cent of the deaths caused by tsunamis.

The Japanese quake, which measured 9.0 magnitude, led to a 10-metre-high tsunami and ended up killing an estimated 18,000 people.

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