SCIENTISTS have warned a mega earthquake capable of wiping out cities and killing thousands could be on its way.
Seismology experts have predicted a 9.2-magnitude quake will trigger a devastating 700-mile long tsunami that will wash over the north-west of America.
And it’s not a question of if ‘The Big One’ will hit but when.
The mega-quake – coined a margin-rupture earthquake by seismologists – is expected to happen in the US’s worst fault line – the Cascadia fault zone.
This area stretches from the Canadian border down to California.
And the quake triggered on the US’s worst fault line is long overdue, experts say.
Just last year activity within the zone reportedly went silent – sparking fears pressure build up could trigger the killer quake.
Worryingly, the year 2015 means it’s now 315 years into a 243-year earthquake cycle.
The potential four minute long earthquake could generate a deadly 100ft high wall of water that would devastate cities across the Pacific north-west of the US – including the iconic San Francisco and Seattle.
A director at the US disaster response agency FEMA reportedly warned everything west of the Interstate 5 highway “will be toast”.
It is predicted 13,000 people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami, 27,000 will be injured and 1,000,000 people will lose their homes.
Schools will be flattened and a third of vital fire stations in the region will be wiped out.
Eerily, it will be the barking of dogs that will warned of the impending disaster.
“The death toll from these types of quakes are from the tsunami and people need to be aware of the risks”
Professor Lisa McNeil, earthquake expert at the University of Southampton
Michio Kaku, City College of New York physicist and professor, said the Cascadia fault is am earthquake waiting to happen.
He said: “Animals will start to act strange – and a minute or two later you head for the hills.”
“We are talking about major energy surges inside the ground which will cause it to liquify. We’ve seen that in Japan, we saw that at Fukushima”
The waves could even go as far as Japan as research shows the country was badly hit by the previous tsunami in 1700.
Professor Lisa McNeil, earthquake expert at the University of Southampton, said a tsunami hitting an economic hub like Tokyo would have a major impact and could generate a time of global financial uncertainty.
She told Daily Star Online: “We (the UK) are in a tectonically low active part of the world but there are secondary effects of hitting a large city.
“Particularly tourists need to be aware of one hitting the region they are in. Be aware of signage, head for high ground if they see the sea receding.”
Andy Hooper, a professor of geodesy and geophysics at the University of Leeds, said: “It’s an issue the north-west should be taking very seriously.
“There could be better warning systems in place but there are people that do take it seriously.
“We don’t know exactly how it will happen and it’s something we will continue to research and that’s useful for preparedness.
“Sometimes there are low-slip events and these happen quite regularly in that region. We don’t know how that changes the likelihood of an earthquake but theres potential there to understand how an earthquake will occur at any time.
“There is plenty of research to be done.”