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Originally published September 3, 2013 at 2:17 PM | Page modified September 4, 2013 at 7:16 AM

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Undersea fault off Washington may trigger bigger tsunami but cause less earthquake damage

Scientists are just back from a monthlong research cruise in the Pacific Ocean off Washington state, where they were trying to find the stickiest point on a section of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the huge undersea fault that breaks loose every few hundred years and generates a massive tsunami and earthquake.

Associated Press

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. —

Scientists are just back from a monthlong research cruise in the Pacific Ocean off Washington state, where they were trying to find the stickiest point on a section of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, the huge undersea fault that breaks loose every few hundred years and generates a massive tsunami and earthquake.

Paul Johnson, a professor of geophysics at the University of Washington, was one of the principal scientists. He says it will be some time before the data from deep-sea measurements of heat and gas emissions is fully analyzed.

But preliminary indications are the strongest upheaval will be farther out to sea than previously thought. That is important because the farther out to sea that upheaval occurs, the bigger the tsunami, and the less damage on land from the earthquake.

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