University of Oregon doctoral student Miles Bodmer is researching why some parts of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which stretches 600 miles from Northern California to Vancouver Island, are more seismically active than others.

University of Oregon doctoral student Miles Bodmer is researching why some parts of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which stretches 600 miles from Northern California to Vancouver Island, are more seismically active than others.

Brian Davies/The Register-Guard

New research from the University of Oregon delivers what may be a sliver of good news — if it can be called that — for the Eugene-Springfield area as the Pacific Northwest prepares for what scientists say will be the worst natural disaster in the region’s recorded history.

The research by Miles Bodmer, a doctoral student at the university, offers a theory about why the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a 700-mile-long fault in the Earth’s crust, is less likely to produce a major earthquake off the Oregon Coast and more likely to generate one off of Northern California and Washington state.

The research offers an explanation of why the odds favor a partial rupture — and by partial we mean kilometers long — to the north and south of the Oregon Coast, which could spare the local area from the very worst shaking and damage from a massive magnitude 8 quake that such an event could produce. Nevertheless, such an event still could do heavy damage to the local area.

The Eugene-Springfield area wouldn’t be so lucky in the event the fault breaks along its entire length, which researchers said would create one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history at magnitude 9 or greater. Researchers predict a quake of that scale would cause widespread death and property destruction across the region, inundating coastal areas with a massive tsunami and isolating inland communities for weeks and months.

Read the whole story at The Register-Guard.