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Reviews of Cascadia's Fault

Readers’ Comments on Goodreads

(as of March 23, 2015)

Dec 31, 2014     Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always been interested in geology. I read The Next Tsunami by Bonnie Henderson earlier this year. Thompson’s analysis of the history of the research of the Cascadia subduction zone since the 1960’s is fascinating and accessible to a lay reader like me. It is because of this work, we now have Tsunami escape signs along the Oregon and Washington coasts and in Hawaii. Everyone living on the west coast needs to be aware of the coming earthquake so we can begin to prepare for the consequences.

Oct 08, 2014     Foggygirl rated it 4 of 5 stars

A fascinating and unnerving read. Personally I find the whole notion of the ground heaving under your feet extremely unsettling anyway never mind the fact that it could cause a giant tsunami!

Oct 07, 2014      Rod rated it 4 of 5 stars

Informative and well researched, this book clearly shows we in the Pacific Northwest and North California, who live in the coastal or near coastal areas, have cause for concern. Note that “near coastal” here means reachable from the coast — like Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver. We are overdue based upon the historical and geographical record.

Aug 19, 2014      Mitchell rated it 4 of 5 stars

More on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Actually it is always cool to be reminded of scientific knowledge (like Plate Tectonics, Missoula Floods, Cascadia Subduction Zone, Global Climate Change) that is essentially new. Lots of history of when we knew what along with stuff I already knew. For a disaster book, it was a pretty good read. 4 of 5.

Jul 20, 2014      Karen rated it 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating. Maybe a bit longer than necessary so certain points were repetitive; otherwise it would get 5 stars… I find myself talking about it frequently to a variety of people, which is really why I read non fiction, to find something that resonates with me.

May 04, 2014    Julie rated it 3 of 5 stars

My fellow residents of the Pacific Northwest: Be afraid. Be very afraid. There is a ticking time bomb beneath our feet. It could detonate tonight or in one hundred years. Who knows? There are smart geologists working hard to answer that question, but prediction science is a lot of tilting at windmills.

Still, this is fascinating stuff. Jerry Thompson takes us on an armchair tour through seismic activity of the ring of fire, starting with Mexico City in 1985, a jump back to Alaska, 1964 and on through the recent double tragedies of earthquake and tsunami in Japan, 2011. He drills down from the massive Ring of Fire to focus on the Cascadia Subduction zone that runs from Vancouver Island to Northern California, how it was discovered, and what can happen when It decides to cut loose with The Big One.

There is a baffling absence of maps. I live here, so I know the Northwest references, but what about everyone else? Not to mention the many sites outside the PNW: Central and South America, the South Pacific, Alaska, Japan, Southeast Asia…inexcusable not to show the plate and subduction zone formations, either.

I live on a peninsula that juts into the Puget Sound on one end, the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the other, bordered on a third side by two bays. Water in three directions. We’d be pretty well screwed if it weren’t for the fact that higher ground is to our southwest: the Olympic Mountains. Our beaches sport tsunami sirens, the country roads have tsunami evacuation notices–every Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. downtown life is interrupted briefly by the chilling sound of the siren drill. Good thing I do hill repeats on my bike. When the rumbling starts, I’ll shove the cat in her carrier, get on my bike and start peddling, uphill.

Apr 09, 2014     Michele bookloverforever rated it 3 of 5 stars

I lived in San Francisco for 18 years. I was there for the ’89 quake. I vacationed in guelala which is in the area of the gordo plate referred to in this book. earthquakes, volcanoes… tsunamis… scary and real, all too real. My apt. building lurched 6′ to the west and then 6′ to the east before coming to rest (until the aftershocks hit anyway). It took 2 years to clean up the debris. I remember driving along the street leading past Chrissy field and seeing broken masonry from the marina buildings lining the roadway. If a major quake hits the cascadia fault it could cause a lot of damage not only from the quake but the resulting tsunami. I remember watching the footage of the damage from the quake in Anchorage in the 60’s. I remember Mexico City. It could happen along BC, WA and OR and spread as far south as northern CA. What would happen to Mt.Rainier. Just because a volcano has not erupted in living history does not mean it cannot. Could a serious (8.5 or worse) earthquake trigger an eruption? who knows? All I know is this scenario could happen and if it does it will cause widespread, multi-state disasters. Re-read in April, 2014… it can be survived by many… providing you know where to go, what to do, immediately. Higher ground… evacuate vertically if you have no higher ground or very short spans of time to evacuate.

Mar 25, 2014         Anne rated it 4 of 5 stars

Nice big picture of the subduction fault along the west coast. Not as frequent as the San Andreas, but responsible for some pretty big ones, not to mention our ring of fire in the Cascade volcanoes. Food for thought and maybe some impetus to put together that earthquake kit!

Mar 16, 2014     Beth rated it 3 of 5 stars

Northern West Coast friends: escape while you can. Recently ran a tabletop exercise on this topic with FEMA (etc.) top brass and I can confidently assure you that everyone is aware and no one is prepared.

Mar 07, 2014       Andy Doyle rated it 4 of 5 stars

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, this book may scare the h@ll out of you. This is a very well written book that describes some very complex processes. Cascadia’s fault is due for another earthquake. It could be a Magnitude 9 or higher. This book will give you the background and some thoughts on preparedness. A great read for civil engineers, emergency planners, those who live in Canada, Oregon, Washington, or California, and those who just like earthquake science.

Dec 29, 2013      Heather rated it 4 of 5 stars

Living in the Pacific Northwest, I was really interested in learning more about the major fault we’re living on top of. This book had a lot of great science as well as a good bit of detective work. I learned a lot about how theories of earthquakes have evolved over the last century. It was well-written and interesting all the way through.

Dec 25, 2013     John Musser rated it 3 of 5 stars

This is an important warning to west coasters like me, however, I skipped the middle ten chapters out of frustration with the lack of visuals (diagrams, etc.). It was just too difficult to digest the descriptions of geological principals without them. Granted, I was reading the ebook edition which I suspect had the visuals stripped-out from the hardcopy. (It was also a public library ebook edition so maybe visuals are just stripped-out that edition to lower the cost?). Otherwise, this is a very well written book.

Dec 19, 2013       David James rated it 5 of 5 stars

Solid science writing that details how geologists teased out the presence of the Cascadia subduction fault and determined its history. Thompson is primarily a television writer, and here he applies the skills of vivid storytelling combined with brevity that TV news requires to a story that should be headline news from Northern California to southern British Columbia. Based on countless hours of interviews with scientists monitoring the fault and community safety workers preparing for the Big One, this book is an important warning. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Thompson hasn’t written this to cause a panic. He stresses over and again that education and awareness are the most important factors in preparing people for an event that, the geologic record shows, will occur again. Whether it happens in our lifetimes is anyone’s guess, but the residents of the West Coast need to be thinking and planning. This is a fine example of writing as public service.

Dec 11, 2013      Christina Dudley rated it 4 of 5 stars

Really enjoyed this book, if that’s an appropriate thing to say about one that proves thoroughly and credibly that all of us living in “Cascadia” (i.e., Vancouver, B.C. down to Cape Mendocino in CA) are totally screwed. Thompson not only goes into the evidence that Cascadia should expect a mega-quake followed by however many devastating tsunamis in our future, but backs up to discuss the history of plate tectonics and past disasters worldwide that were similar. The forensic work to figure out when the last Cascadia catastrophe hit was fascinating.

As a result of reading this, our family had a half-joking discussion of what we would do after the house collapsed, along with the entire infrastructure of Western WA: if we were so fortunate to be together, we’d start walking to the grandparents’ house in Eastern WA. According to Mapquest, it’s only 101 hours, 44 minutes on foot. Hey–if the Von Trapps could fictionally climb over the Alps, we could manage Snoqualmie Pass, right?

Oct 29, 2013       Surya rated it 4 of 5 stars

Its a very well written book. I’d have given 4.5 stars. What I felt this book was lacking is pictures. At the very least it should have provided the map of different places it was talking about. I do not have geology background, but still I enjoyed it. Must read.

Oct 06, 2013       Edward rated it 5 of 5 stars

Great book, very interesting information about ring of fire and pacific rim seismology.

Oct 03, 2013      Asuka rated it 5 of 5 stars

HOLY COW, this is a MUST READ for everyone. I mean, really everyone. Not just us living in West coast, but everyone, since when we go down, it’s going to affect everyone around the world. It gives you a chronological description on how we came to understand what the Magnitude 9 Magathrust and the subsequent tsunami will do to Pacific NW. If this book doesn’t scare you and kick you in to action, not much will (well, I suppose documentary version of this story would too).

Sep 13, 2013      Lauren orso rated it 4 of 5 stars

this was actually a lot less anxiety-triggering than i thought it would be for me, and decent, easily understood pop-geology.

Jun 03, 2013      Becky rated it 5 of 5 stars

Wow! This is a very scary and sobering book. Most think that the San Andreas fault and numerous other faults in California are the most dangerous. Well the Cascadia Subducton Zone tops them all. It is an 800 mile long subduction fault off the coast of Northern California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

When it rips, and it will, it will be exactly like the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, only on our coast. It will likely be a 9 or higher magnitude earthquake that will devastate the coasts of northern California, Oregon, Washington and parts of Canada. So not one city will be devastated like most earthquakes do, a whole coastline and many major cities will be crumpled. Portland, Seattle, Tacoma even Sacramento will feel it. The coastal towns will also get hit by a tsunami that could easily reach 30 to 40 feet higher than high tide. This would devastate the western united states. It would also make the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina look like a walk in the park. The sad thing is that the government has done very little to prepare for this until recently. Very good book on how the geologists came to the stunning conclusions that this is actually a very seismically active area and a dangerous one at that.

May 24, 2013      Barbara rated it 4 of 5 stars

I started reading this book and there was an earthquake in Toronto…Interesting book, very informative about everything to do with earthquakes.

Apr 12, 2013        Dottie rated it 5 of 5 stars

Great read, easy for a non-fiction. Of particular interest to those of us in the PNW and especially Humboldt, as it features HSU and our own Lori Dengler, among others.

Mar 17, 2013     Melissa Dally rated it 3 of 5 stars

This is about the coming earthquake with the potential to destroy North America. Basically, Cascadia is the one major Ring of Fire fault that’s not gone off in the longest and basically if it did, it would do to our west coast what the 2004 Sumatra quake did over there. There was a lot of scientific explanation, the authors definitely did their work and I believe in the science behind it, but of course the meat and potatoes is at the end (what it would look like when this does happen). There are, of course, precautions folks can take to preserve themselves if they live in harms way so with education, people can survive this, but for me, I think I will stay in Iowa where, if a tsunami did hit us, it would be in an extinction-level event anyway. heh.

Feb 19, 2013        Jill Crosby rated it 3 of 5 stars

Compelling narrative and insightful commentary on the inroads being made in preparation for “the Big One,” the 9.0 or higher earthquake/tsunami event that will one day decimate America’s northwest along with British Columbia. Pretty good, but could have used a better pictures/ maps section, clarifying a lot of the events/locations mentioned. One thing is sure: There is no amount of money that would entice me to live within 500 miles of the western Pacific Ocean.

Jan 19, 2013     Patricia Ralston rated it 5 of 5 stars

Fascinating and engrossing account of the evolution of theory of seismology and geology culminating in the comprehension of scope and scale of past and potential future major quakes and tsunamis on the west coast of the US and Canada. Science in plain english and a must read for anyone living on the West Coast.

Jan 04, 2013     Alex rated it 4 of 5 stars

I was expecting this book to be far more propagandtastic than it was; I picked it up because you know, now that I’m living in the Northwest I figured I should know about the earthquake situation. It wound up being actually not entirely shrill, which was nice, but instead was more about the history of plate tectonics, especially as applied to the Juan de Fuco fault. Fascinating!

Dec 30, 2012    Bruce Reiter rated it 5 of 5 stars

This is a great read for anyone involved in emergency preparedness and for any instructor/student interested in pursuing geology. It takes the reader from the beginnings of plate tectonics forward to the present day methodology for determining the impact of earthquake/tsunami and the means for measuring them. If nothing else, read it for the epilog and afterword.

Dec 24, 2012    Reiden rated it 5 of 5 stars

When the Pacific Northwest’s urban areas were first being constructed, earthquakes and tsunamis were hardly on the minds of people in that area. At that time no one in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, as well as the long range of coastal communities along Washington and Oregon, were aware of the potential danger zone. It wasn’t until the 1960’s with mega earthquakes in Alaska and Chile that scientists first began realizing the hidden power of the Cascade’s subduction zone. When evidence first surfaced of a large quake around the year 1700, some people argued that it could have been either a one-time event, or the last of many. But then Mt. St.Helens erupted in 1980 – letting everyone know that Cascadia was indeed still active.

Thanks to the hard work of researchers (many from OSU), we now have evidence to show that the Pacific Northwest has undergone a major earthquake every 300-500 years for the past 10,000 years. These earthquakes appear to have been massive enough to have affected British Columbia down to northern California.

In recent years coastal towns like Seaside, OR have started preparing, and there are now tsunami evacuation routes which would direct people to higher ground when the next tsunami strikes. While some people are still debating whether or not prediction is a possibility, the most practical path of action according to this book, is making an influence on a community, helping ensure a plan of action and being prepared for the worst case scenario. This means building emergency shelters that can withstand a 9.0 magnitude, and in some places the onrush of multiple tsunami waves as well.

This book was all too real for me having lived on and off in the Pacific Northwest. I do remember a time when tsunami warning signs were not a common sight along the beaches of Oregon, now they’re seem to be everywhere. Hopefully books like this one will start encouraging towns large and small to invest more money into seismic updates, especially for emergency buildings such as hospitals, as well as schools.

Dec 13, 2012       Shyam Parekh rated it 5 of 5 stars

A readable introduction to plate tectonics and seismology of the west coast, especially the Pacific Northwest. The science is well explained and the data is referenced, so that the book is more balanced and less sensational than the title might suggest. If you are interested in the world around you, you should read this book.

Dec 01, 2012      Bruce Giordano rated it 4 of 5 stars

Very interesting book on the Cascadia Fault. An earthquake is coming here. Maybe next week or maybe not for another 200 years. When it arrives though it will be like the one in Sumatra or worse.

Nov 28, 2012        Amy rated it 3 of 5 stars

Very interesting, but repetitive and too long

Oct 05, 2012         TheSaint rated it 4 of 5 stars

I read this book in 30-40 minute segments over a period of weeks. Living in the area where the fault is likely to cause significant damage, I feared that the subject might be a little intense. As it turns out, the bulk of the book is a history (recent) of geologists and earthquake chasers around the Pacific rim. Written by a documentarian, it reads much like a documentary.

Predicting earthquakes (and tsunamis) is both art and science, so I won’t be holding my breath for when the authorities say the the big one’s coming. But predicting what will happen after it hits seems to be much more reliable.

I’ll be reviewing my home emergency plans tout de suite.

Sep 05, 2012     Read Ng rated it 5 of 5 stars

A good journalist keeps his stories short, yet clearly descriptive and to the point. Don’t be scared that the science will be over your head. Do be scared that the threat is all too real. Thompson builds his tale like an experienced newsman. I will have to put a little more thought into that retirement home overlooking the ocean that I often daydream about. I will recommend this to many of my friends.

Sep 03, 2012     Lance rated it 3 of 5 stars

Nice way to get caught up on the latest in geology.

Sep 02, 2012     Garret Seinen rated it 4 of 5 stars

I read this book before the Japanese tsunami snuffed out 20,000 lives in a matter of minutes. A sobering thought.

Sitting on Vancouver Island and having seen the 1964 tsunami generated by the great Alaska I’m now more aware than ever just how precarious this west coast is.

Jul 29, 2012     Tim rated it 3 of 5 stars

An interesting account of how scientists have come to realize that a huge earthquake and tsunami will eventually occur off the coast of the northwestern part of the United States and southwestern Canada. The book is a bit confusing chronologically in that it starts with an account of a quake in Mexico City, then moves back in time to a quake in Alaska and then forward from there. Most fascinating to me was the story of how scientists were able to pinpoint the day and hour more than three hundred years ago when the last Cascadia quake and tsunami took place.

Jun 02, 2012        Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars

Kind of like a detective story–how scientists put the pieces together to understand that we’re going to get clobbered by a subduction earthquake sometime soon, in geologic time, anyway. I (very unscientific person) really enjoyed reading it. Bottom line is we know this is going to happen, so the more prepared we are, the better off we’ll all be.

May 20, 2012      Bill Holmes rated it 5 of 5 stars

“Cascadia’s Fault” is a well-written reminder that most of the Western United States is poised beside an offshore subduction zone, very much like the one that produced the earthquakes and tsunamis that devastated Indonesia in 2004 and Japan in 2011. Thompson explains how scientists came to understand that a massive quake and tsunami struck the Oregon coast in January 1700, and how another similar quake could strike at almost anytime. Sobering stuff.

May 14, 2012       Lianne Burwell rated it 4 of 5 stars

Cascadia’s Fault is a look at a fault line off the west coast of North America that is similar to the one that caused the massive earthquake off the coast of Chile in the sixties and the one that caused the Japanese earthquake in 2010. This fault hasn’t caused any problems in recorded history (which means the last two hundred years in that part of the world), but could be just waiting. There is evidence that it may have previously caused a tsunami that was recorded in Japanese historical records.

If it goes, it will cause drastic damage pretty much across the west coast of the US and Canada. The big question is when will it go.

The book also covers historical earthquakes and tsunamis to build the case of how bad it could be, including looks at the Mexico City earthquake in the eighties and the Alaska earthquake in 1964 that caused destructive tsunamis that hit BC and California and other areas. It also looks at both recent and current seismic research, and the evolution of accepted scientific ideas. The final chapter imagines what it might be like if that earthquake actually happened.

All of this is presented in a clear, easy to read format that pulls you along, perhaps imagining what it would be like to be there when it happens, or perhaps what the movie of such a disaster would be.

This was also the subject of a documentary called Shockwave that the author was involved with a few years ago. I vaguely remember seeing it and finding the ideas intriguing, but the special effects laughably bad (although they weren’t the focus of the movie, they were a little distracting when they were there). This book takes the information from that documentary and fleshes it out, giving the reader even more detail and background to what was quickly presented in Shockwave.

So, will there be another ‘megathrust’ quake in our lifetime? It depends. We could be overdue for another large quake, or heading into a quiet period. Previous quiet periods came after 3-4 megathrust quakes at ~300 year intervals. The most recent cluster had its third quake in 1700 (pinpointed by Japanese historical records, of all things). So, if it’s a 4-quake cluster, we are due just about any time. If it’s a 3-quake cluster, it will be hundreds of years.

And that’s the biggest problem with earthquakes; no matter how much research there is, there is still no way to actually predict when an earthquake will happen. The thrust of this book seems to be that while research is important and should continue, of course, but equal importance should be given to figuring out how to build buildings that will survive large earthquakes, and teach people to know when to run for the hills and the best way to do it. Because someday the quake will happen, as will the waves, and the best way to survive is to recognize the signs that a quake will cause a wave and head for the hills, because for those areas closest to the quake, they will have probably less than ten minutes to reach safety.

May 08, 2012     Michael Berman rated it 4 of 5 stars

We’re all doomed! This book outlines the detective work used to identify a history of major earthquakes off the coast of Washington and Oregon, and it’s truly fascinating. And terrifying. We’re doomed…

Nancy’s (Deadwood, OR) review

Read from March 10 to 11, 2012

Maybe I’m too close to the subject of this book to fairly evaluate it. I’ve lived all my adult life within within the area impacted by the Cascadia Fault Zone. Much of the research Thompson reports was done by academics associated with Oregon State and Humboldt State, two universities I attended. I can visualize most of the places he describes. Cascadia’s Fault is largely about the research that uncovered a 10,000 year history of huge earthquakes off the coasts of Oregon and Washington, earthquakes that arrive every 300 to 500 years with the last one in 1700. Thompson presents the evolving science in an interesting and accessible way. I really had trouble putting the book down. While he does an excellent job of scaring the bejeezus out of you, there is more to the book than that. Thompson finishes with useful information on what we can do on both a personal and community level to save lives. If you live in California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia or Alaska this book is really worth your time. Even if you live elsewhere, knowing more about earthquakes and tsunamis could save your life.

Joyce Moser’s (Granger, IN) review

Read from February 10 to 16, 2012

I really love books and shows that deal with natural disasters. This was a great book talking about offshore faults and how they were discovered. I also really liked all the great information about tsunamis.

Dale’s (Port Townsend, WA) review

Read in January, 2011

Compelling reading even if it is non-fiction. Since I know live in this area, and escaped the impeding devastation in California, I needed to know what I had gotten into. Now, I know I need my emergency preparedness skills intact in the Pacific Northwest. This scenario could be worse than living in California.

Teresa’s review

Read in February, 2012

Eye-opening. Traces the history of the development of plate tectonics theory. Paints an ugly picture of what’s due to happen on the west coast of North America. I found the science and analysis tools that they used to figure this out pretty interesting.

Cynthia’s review

Read in January, 2012

The title is slightly exaggerated – only the west coast of north america, though that would be awful. This book was an excellent read about tsunamis in general, and the off shore earth quakes that cause them. I was particularly interested being from the Pacific NW to read detail about the cascade plate that runs off shore from California up into Canada and how it is subducting under the north american plate and what happens when it is first stuck and then comes unstuck. It is amazing how much science can and is learning about past events, though prediction is another whole matter. While “a big one” is due, in geologic terms, no one knows about tomorrow – but many coastal towns are now identifying evacuation routes and general plans. Because the fault zone is so close off shore (less than 100 miles) the time people will have to run/drive to high ground will be very short, as in minutes. As most of us know now, if you see the sea pulling back out rapidly, don’t get your camera and stand there waiting for a good shot!

jeremy’s (Portland, OR) review

Read in December, 2011

as fascinating as it is alarming, cascadia’s fault tells the story of the cascadia subduction zone, a geologically and seismologically active area stretching from northern california into british columbia. as the juan de fuca tectonic plate continues its eastward slip beneath the north american plate, the convergence will eventually lead to disaster for the major cities and coastal towns of the pacific northwest. as an active fault zone that has spurred numerous megathrust earthquakes over many millennia, it is only a matter of time before the plates unlock themselves once again in a series of catastrophic temblors.

for the past twenty-five years, canadian journalist jerry thompson has been tracking the scientific advancements in the earthquake geology of the pacific northwest. cascadia’s fault, despite its somewhat misleading subtitle, focuses mostly on the ever-evolving developments in understanding the subduction zone’s history and future. as plate tectonics began to surplant the once-dominant theory of continental drift, it became ever more evident that the cascadia subduction zone not only was able of producing powerful earthquakes, but it had, in fact, been doing so for thousands of years. cascadia’s fault recounts the major advancements in the recent science relating to the area, and foretells of a day when another major earthquake (perhaps a 9 or 9.5 magnitude) will strike again. victoria, vancouver, seattle, portland, sacramento, and towns in between are likely to suffer cataclysmic damage during and after the inevitable quake, and coastal communities will be ravaged and destroyed from the ensuing tsunamis (predicted to reach heights of perhaps one hundred feet).

for perspective and to help clarify the science, thompson includes chapters on other recently devastating earthquakes and their resulting tsunamis from around the pacific ring of fire, including the march 2011 9.0 magnitude tōhoku quake in japan, the christchurch earthquake a month earlier, the 8.8 chilean temblor in 2010, and the 9.3 sumatran quake in december 2004. thompson reiterates the need for better earthquake and tsunami preparedness for the entire pacific northwest region, as preparation, thus far, has been woefully inadequate for a disaster as epic as this one will likely be. in a final chapter entitled, “cascadia’s fault: day of reckoning,” thompson lays bare, in graphic and horrifying detail, likely real-time scenarios of what may happen when the “big one” finally hits the pnw (collapsing bridges and buildings, rampant fires, ruptured water and gas lines, crippled infrastructure, deadly rock and mudslides, overwhelmed and unresponsive emergency services, etc.).

cascadia’s fault is an obviously well-researched book, and it is clear that thompson takes the subject seriously (especially as a resident of the pacific northwest himself). as predictive modeling is currently unable to forecast earthquakes with any effective degree of accuracy, geologists and seismologists continue on with their research (as many state and local governments all but ignore the inevitability of what’s to come). it appears a cascadian megathrust earthquake likely appears every 500 years or so, and with the last major recorded event having occurred in january of 1700, the next one could, quite literally, arrive anytime between this evening and the next couple of hundred years. if there is a single point that thompson seems to drive home (with the lessons and consequences of the aforementioned earthquakes still so painfully apparent), it’s simply that greater preparedness will not only save countless lives, but also mitigate the nearly inconceivable destruction that draws nearer every day.

Kirsten’s review

Read from November 07 to December 11, 2011

I went to college in Oregon, and on the first day of school, they gave us an earthquake evacuation plan. Being from Minnesota, I looked at them like they were nuts (though I later learned we can get them in Minnesota). Three semesters of geology later, I was fascinated by the Cascadia Fault (in that morbid, I won’t be living here soon way).

This book was an excellent explanation of the discovery of the fault, projected damages that could occur, and the beginning of plans being laid to help mitigate future effects. The hospital in the town where I went to school was being completely rebuilt, so I can see the plan moving into effect.

It was written by a journalist, not a geologist, but he interviewed many of the most prestigious and well known geologists on the west coast. I think the author really got into his work, and I thought he did a nice job explaining some seriously complex geologic processes. Probably doesn’t hurt he lives within the area that could be severely damaged should “the big one” as it’s known, hit.

I highly recommend this book to everyone in the danger zone, and to everyone who loves geology. It’s definitely an interesting read about this little known lurking time bomb off the Pacific Coast. It’s especially timely since there have been major earthquakes in each of the 4 corners of the Pacific recently as well. I often wonder if that has any impact on other plates when there are huge earthquakes that shake the whole planet and cause it to tilt…

Brian’s review

Read from December 06 to 08, 2011

I have three things to note after reading this interesting book. First, I am thankful that I lived in the Pacific Northwest for five years, as this provided me some foundation for knowing the places discussed in the book. While clearly available online, a quick reference map in the book would be helpful. And there were reference maps, but while the text mentioned many different mountains, cities, bays, etc, the most “local” map had but a few of these locations. Second, I was surprised that this work developed along the historical research that has been conducted into the fault. I had expected a focus on similar historical events leading to an analysis of the potential destruction from a quake.

I enjoyed reading and learning about the different sources that geologists use to determine the nature and frequency of past quakes, particularly those of the Cascadia Fault. However, part of me now thinks, “I will never visit Seattle again.”

Oct 30, 2011    Kenny rated it 5 of 5 stars

The ultimate disaster book. Guaranteed, in a methodical, readible fashion, scare your pants off.

Lori’s review

Read from September 03 to 10, 2011

Who knew that plate tectonics wasn’t around until as late as 1964?
This book is a walk through the history of geological science. The general population only realized that the Pacific Northwest was a potentially threatening area in 1987. I just moved to Tacoma in 2011, with the vague knowledge that it was an active area, but no idea how high the risk was exactly. This book is clearing that right up for me. No conspiracy theory, no hype. Just a journalist who has been on the trail of this story for 25 years, feeling that after the Japan quake in March 2011, someone ought to sound the alarm. I am hearing it! I’ll let you know more after I finish it

Catherine Essary’s (Bend, OR) review

Read from July 02 to September 10, 2011

I find it very interesting since we lived in the Bay Area during Loma

Phil’s (Portland, OR) review

Read from August 27 to September 04, 2011

I personally need more maps and charts to properly study ocean trenches and tectonic plates. I was happy to have read the book and happier to finally finish it. Portlandia, we are really in for it… do you have your emergency kit together?

Mitchell’s review

Read from August 20 to 23, 2011

More on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Actually it is always cool to be reminded of scientific knowledge (like Plate Tectonics, Missoula Floods, Cascadia Subduction Zone, Global Climate Change) that is essentially new. Lots of history of when we knew what along with stuff I already knew. For a disaster book, it was a pretty good read. 4 of 5.

Carolyn’s (White Salmon, WA) review

Read from July 15 to 18, 2011

A real-life horror story: we in the northwest are due for a 9-point earthquake. The last one this size was in 1700 (9 pm on Jan. 26, to be precise, as calculated from Japan’s “orphan tsunami” – one with no accompanying earthquake in Japan). It’s an interesting story of the way this was calculated, from ocean floor sediments to tree rings to “ghost forests” left when the salt water from the 1700 tsunami retreated from far inland.

Woodwhisperer’s (Campbell River, BC) review

Read on May 20, 2011

One needs be a serious geology nerd to enjoy this book. Luckily I am one. The one thing this very up to date volume does very well is follow the history of plate techtonics from its birth in the flawed science of continental drift. In doing so it leaves no doubt that given current data, we are due for a set of earthquakes and their subsequent tsunamis which will forever change the face of civilization (such as it may be :~D) on the west coast of North America. It indicates in no uncertain terms that the event will likely happen sooner rather than later.

The author has indicated both in print and in morning show interviews that his desire is to wake the populace to the danger but frankly, he might have been more successful if the book were published in conjunction with a twenty page comic book. I am convinced his science is on the money but I fear most people will wade into chapter two and either fall asleep or quit in confusion.The message is too critically important for this to be acceptable. It is a good try though. Now we need someone to publish the Bart Simpson version.

May 03, 2011      Crossett Library rated it 5 of 5 stars

Deborah Joyner’s (Granite Falls, NC) review

Read from April 17 to 25, 2011

A good book – disaster writing about a disaster that hasn’t happened yet is a bit morbid, but the stories of the scientists studying earthquakes are quite compelling.