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The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coastby Bonnie Henderson
Synopses & Reviews
"Watching the horrific devastation of tsunamis in Southeast Asia, Chile, and Japan, it is easy to forget that the same outcome is possible along the coast of America's Pacific Northwest. Henderson redresses this omission, focusing on Oregon's swath of the Ring of Fire, that Pacific belt responsible for 90% of the world's earthquakes. She begins with a tsunami that hit Seaside, Ore., in 1964, and follows the career of Tom Horning, then a boy in Seaside, whose life is interwoven with the story of the scientific realization that the Earth's crust is made up of moving plates, something still hotly debated 50 years ago. Most Oregonians doubted that they were in danger until a combination of data from soil samples, historical records, and Native American oral traditions proved that in 1700 there had been a disastrous tsunami there. Today the existence of the Cascadia Subduction Zone is well-accepted, but remains such an intangible danger in the public mind that little preparation has been made for the inevitable tsunami. Henderson's decision to weave a personal narrative into this work obscures the thrust of her argument. Nevertheless, that the West Coast of the U.S. is ill-prepared to deal with a major earthquake and tsunami comes through loud and clear." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast is the gripping story of the geological discoveries—and the scientists who uncovered them—that signal the imminence of a catastrophic tsunami on the Northwest Coast.
On a March evening in 1964, ten-year-old Tom Horning awoke near midnight to find his yard transformed. A tsunami triggered by Alaskas momentous Good Friday earthquake had wreaked havoc in his Seaside, Oregon, neighborhood. It was, as far as anyone knew, the Pacific Northwest coasts first-ever tsunami.
More than twenty years passed before geologists discovered that it was neither Seasides first nor worst tsunami. In fact, massive tsunamis strike the Pacific coast every few hundred years, triggered not by distant temblors but by huge quakes less than one hundred miles off the Northwest coast. Not until the late 1990s would scientists use evidence like tree rings and centuries-old warehouse records from Japan to fix the date, hour, and magnitude of the Pacific Northwest coasts last megathrust earthquake: 9 p.m., January 26, 1700, magnitude 9.0—one of the largest quakes the world has known. When the next one strikes—this year or hundreds of years from now—the tsunami it generates is likely to be the most devastating natural disaster in the history of the United States.
In The Next Tsunami, Bonnie Henderson shares the stories of scientists like meteorologist Alfred Wegener, who formulated his theory of continental drift while gazing at ice floes calving from Greenland glaciers, and geologist Brian Atwater, who paddled his dented aluminum canoe up coastal streams looking for layers of peat sandwiched among sand and silt. The story begins and ends with Tom Horning, who grew up to become a geologist and return to his family home at the mouth of the river in Seaside—arguably the Northwest community with the most to lose from what scientist Atwater predicts will be an apocalyptic” disaster. No one in Seaside understands earthquake science—and the politics and complicated psychology of living in a tsunami zone—better than Horning.
Hendersons compelling story of how scientists came to understand the Cascadia Subduction Zone—a fault line capable of producing earthquakes even larger than the 2011 Tohoku quake in Japan—and how ordinary people cope with that knowledge is essential reading for anyone interested in the charged intersection of science, human nature, and public policy
About the Author
Journalist Bonnie Henderson is the author of Strand: An Odyssey of Pacific Ocean Debris (OSU Press)—an Oregon Book Award finalist and one of the Seattle Times Best Books of 2008—as well as two hiking guidebooks. She has been a newspaper reporter and editor, an editor at Sunset magazine, and a writer for a number of magazines including Backpacker, Ski, and Coastal Living. Currently a freelance writer and editor focusing on the natural world, Henderson divides her time between the Oregon coast and her home in Eugene, Oregon.
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