There’s a nine percent chance a magnitude 9 or larger earthquake will strike the Aleutian Islands in the next 50 years. That is the prediction offered by scientists from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa — made with the help of a newly designed computer model.
Researchers say an earthquake of that size could send a mega-tsunami in the direction of the Hawaiian Islands.
The Aleutian Islands, which stretch toward Russia from the coast of Alaska, sit along a subduction zone at the convergence of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. Scientists say the chance of a dramatic slip along the fault lines that make up the subduction zone is significant.
They detailed the threat of a mega-earthquake in a new paper, published this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Solid Earth.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” lead study author Rhett Butler, a geophysicist at the UHM School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, explained in a news release. “Having no recorded history of mega tsunamis in Hawai’i, and given the tsunami threat to Hawai’i, we devised a model for Magnitude 9 earthquake rates following upon the insightful work of David Burbidge and others.”
Researchers integrated fault system measurements — fault length and convergence rate — with Bayesian probability models, and then tested the predictions against historic tectonic events. Researchers compared the simulation to recent catastrophic earthquake and tsunami events, including Sumatra-Andaman in 2004; Alaska in 1964; Chile in 1960; and Kamchatka in 1952.
“These five events represent half of…