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VANCOUVER - When the "Big One" hit Japan earlier this year, the ground shook, tsunamis struck and tens of thousands of people died.
Scientists know British Columbia will eventually experience its own Big One. The problem is, they just don't know when or where it will strike and how long the shaking will last.
Andrew Calvert, an earth sciences professor at Simon Fraser University, says he may be able to help solve a little piece of that puzzle, following the publication of a recent article in the journal Nature Geoscience.
"Essentially, what we saw in Japan is what will happen in the Pacific Northwest sooner or later," said Calvert, noting a major earthquake hits B.C. every 500 years. The last quake was in 1700.
Calvert and a team of researchers concluded a section of a fault line in the Pacific Northwest — the area where two of the earth's tectonic plates meet — is seven kilometres deeper than previously thought.
The study found the section in question is actually 27 to 42 kilometres deep, not 25 to 35 kilometres, and is under Washington state.
Calvert said that's important. While the new information won't help determine when or where the Big One will come — nothing yet can do that — it will help scientists refine their calculations on any ground shaking that will take place during an earthquake..