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20. Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquakes: the big one(s)

Exotic Terranes

The modern version of the many subduction zones that have shaped Oregon over the last hundreds of millions of years is called the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Dozens of active faults off the Oregon coast mark the subduction zonesee Plate Tectonics diagram, which has produced 19 very large earthquakes over the past 10,000 years — on average one every 530 years. When these great earthquakes occur, western Oregon lurches as much as 20 to 40 feet to the west in a few minutes. The most recent event occurred January 26, 1700, and was probably a magnitude 9 or larger earthquake. This earthquake caused strong shaking lasting several minutes over most of western Oregon and produced a tsunami that flooded coastal lowlands within minutes.


Age Range: 10,000 to 309 years ago . . . and counting
Did You Know? The tsunami from the 1700 earthquake was recorded in Japan, where the tsunami caused minor damage.
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The Schooner Creek Wayside historical marker, located on U.S. Highway 101 south of Lincoln City, recalls the great earthquake and tsunami of 1700, which destroyed Native American villages along the Northwest coast.


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