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Northwest at risk of megaquake like one in Chile

Just 50 miles off the Pacific Northwest coast is an earthquake hotspot that threatens to unleash on Seattle, Portland and Vancouver the kind of damage that has shattered Chile.

The fault has been dormant for more than 300 years, but when it awakens — tomorrow or decades from now — the consequences could be devastating. Recent computer simulations of a hypothetical magnitude-9 quake found that shaking could last 2 to 5 minutes — strong enough to potentially cause poorly constructed buildings from British Columbia to Northern California to collapse and severely damage highways and bridges.


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