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Tsunami Preparedness: Aleutian Islands Data Has New Findings for Pacific Rim

Jan 12, 2016 06:50 PM EST
Damaged coral from Tsunami 2006
Recent findings from the Aleutian Islands will help us prepare more for tsunamis in other parts of the Pacific Rim, including in Hawaii, says a study.
(Photo : Flickr: Matthew Hutchinson)

A recent study gathered data on large tsunamis that occur every few hundred years at a remote island in the area of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, within the long, narrow chain of the Aleutian Islands. The information will be useful for tsunami preparedness work in the Pacific Rim, according to a release.

Basically, the Alaskan data indicates that a section of the Aleutian Subduction Zone fault is currently "creeping" and could possibly stir up an earthquake with size enough to hurtle a large tsunami to Hawaii. Amid the data is substantial evidence that tsunamis took place in prehistoric times in the Aleutians. The scientists ask that that area of the eastern Aleutian Subduction Zone be reevaluated for risk of tsunami and earthquake hazards.

The team says that based on deposits left behind, tsunamis occurred in the area on average of every 300-340 years.

The findings were recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

While creeping faults demonstrate continuous, slow motion, it isn't clear whether or not they can be part of large earthquakes. But the research team says that in the Stardust Bay, Alaska area, geological movement and observations recorded indicate that tsunamis could have unrecognized sources in the Aleutians.

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-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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