The Devil’s Mountain Fault runs east to west from Washington state into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, ending just south of Victoria.
A federal report says it could produce a devastating earthquake.
“It’s a fault that we suspected was there but now has been proven to be there,” earthquake seismologist John Cassidy said. “It has slipped at least once and the real question now is, how often does it move?”
If the entire fault zone were to rupture at once, it could result in a 7.5-magnitude quake right at the surface, similar to a 2011 earthquake that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand.
Doug Carey, the City of Victoria’s acting emergency coordinator, said the report serves as a reminder to be ready.
“This is a new scientific discovery,” he said. “These things happen all the time and the key message out of all these discoveries are that the public needs to be prepared.”
“We have to continue doing what we’re doing which is to continually invest in seismic projects so our schools are being seismically upgraded [as are] hospitals and bridges,” Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness Naomi Yamamoto said.
But the true risk of a quake is still a mystery. Research will continue to determine just how far the fault stretches.
“Whether it happens in a year or 10 years or this afternoon, we know that those earthquakes will occur in this region,” Cassidy said.
– With files from Kylie Stanton
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