Experts Are Wary as Fault Lubricant Leakage May Trigger an Earthquake Disaster
Scientists are on high alert, fearing a crack at the bottom of the ocean may trigger a cataclysmic earthquake. Situated just 50 miles off Oregon’s coast, this hole spewing hot liquid may trigger a magnitude-nine earthquake with potential to devastate all US west coast states – situated along an 600 mile fault line known as Cascadia Subduction Zone spanning from California to Canada.
Cascadia Subduction Zone: the Cause of Earthquakes in Washington and Oregon
Scientists speculate that Cascadia Subduction Zone could become the source of “The Big One”, an earthquake of unprecedented destructive force not witnessed for centuries that will hit western continental United States cities with devastating force.
Even though first noticed in 2015, scientists now warn that any liquid seeping out may act as “fault lubricant”, helping tectonic plates move more freely along faults; more fluid means reduced pressure between two plates while its absence could cause incredible pressure to build beneath Earth’s crust and potentially sparking off an incredible earthquake!
The Pythias Oasis: An Extraordinary Experience
Eight years ago, a robotic diver discovered an ocean floor hole after seeing methane bubbles rising up through it. Based on data provided from sensors installed near plate boundaries and appearance temperatures of the area, Evan Soloman from University of Washington who co-authored a report about it said, “they explored in that direction, and saw not just methane bubbles but water pouring out like a firehose from under the seafloor”.
Dr. Soloman likened this process to that of an air hockey table; when fluid from offshore megathrust interface is lost through strike-slip faults, it decreases fluid pressure between sentiment particles, thus increasing friction between oceanic and continental plates and decreasing fluid pressure between sentiment particles causing less friction between oceanic and continental plates.
When fluid pressure increases too rapidly it acts like turning on air hockey tables so less friction exists and plates can slip easily past each other.
Similar Events Await Exploration
Subduction systems, in which one tectonic plate slides over another, have been blamed for some of the deadliest earthquakes recently, including Japan’s 2011 quake that killed over 20,000. Scientists estimate that Cascadia experienced its last powerful tremor in 1700 – 30 times stronger than what would be predicted along the San Andreas Fault which runs along California.
Dr. Solomon believes this fluid seeping through is first known site like it, although other similar holes may exist such as Pythias Oasis which remains to be explored further.
Prediction of Hot Spring
The Pythias Oasis takes its name from an ancient Greek oracle who could “predict” future events by hallucinating on fumes emanating from hot springs buried underground.
Scientists continue to observe this fascinating occurrence to gain more knowledge about fault lubricants and their ability to trigger catastrophic earthquakes in the future.