The Most Recent Cascadia Earthquake and Native American Narratives

  • Andrew SolowEmail author
  • Andrew Beet
  • Shauna McManus


The Cascadia subduction zone fault lies just off the Pacific coast of the USA and Canada. Although this fault has been seismically inactive over the written history of the Cascadia region, it has the potential to produce catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis. A variety of dating methods have been used to show that the most recent Cascadia earthquake occurred in 1700. Among these methods is an informal analysis of oral traditions handed down by Native American peoples that appear to refer to a major earthquake in this region. A central difficulty in analyzing these narratives quantitatively is their use of a generation and other qualitative measures of time that have no fixed lengths. Here, these narratives are analyzed under an explicit statistical model of the lengths of these measures. The results raise a question about the previous conclusion that these narratives all refer to the most recent Cascadia earthquake.


Cascadia Earthquake Native American Likelihood ratio statistic Parametric bootstrap 



The helpful comments of the Associate Editor and an anonymous reviewer are acknowledged with gratitude.


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Copyright information

© International Association for Mathematical Geosciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine Policy CenterWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA
  2. 2.Program in Public HealthAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA

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