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Introduction The settlement of people in the Pacific Northwest is heaviest along the coastline which is coveted for its natural beauty and warmer winter climate However out of sight from the settlements and deep below the earths surface is a ticking natural time bomb A megathrust earthquake is not a matter of if but when and how big This threat of The Big One is forgotten in the daily lives of the populous Occasional warnings from seismologists do not convince many to consider relocation as the quality of life and the opportunity for success draws people yearly to the hazard prone region The risk is very real as there are hundreds of smaller earthquakes every year but big ones do occur The biggest earthquake in Canada occurred on August 12th 1949 along a fault line off the coast it was recorded at a magnitude of 81 Our paper will discuss the geological processes at work off the coast of British Columbia the scientific and native historical evidence for these catastrophic events within the Ring of Fire The effects of a megathrust earthquake that occurred three hundred years ago are discussed in relation to Japan A section is devoted to the technology currently being used to monitor the earths movements and the Provincial governments mitigation strategy The Subduction-zone earthquake A Subduction-zone Earthquake can be classified into two stages The first stage is the Interseismic Period or between earthquakes stage it takes place over hundreds of years Usually plate convergence is an on-going process but the two plates in a subduction zone are locked over some width of the subduction thrust fault line This results in both vertical uplift and horizontal shortening of the overlying plate margin -2- Figure 4a The extent of the deformation inland and the location of the area of maximum uplift are determined by the extent and the location of the locked zone conversely the width and location
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