WHOI is a private, independent organization that engages in marine research, engineering, and higher education. Its primary mission is "... to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment."
These WHOI experts state within the press release, 'While Japan's 8.9-magnitude earthquake and accompanying tsunami represent a devastating natural disaster for the country's residents, scientists should also seize upon the massive temblor [trembling earthquake] as an important learning tool for future quakes around the world, including the Pacific Northwest coast of the United States'¦.'
Dr. Jeff McGuire, a geophysicist and earthquake seismologist at Woods Hole, said that people along the western coast of North America - especially northern California, Oregon, and Washington in the United States, and Vancouver in Canada - should be wary of similar earthquakes/tsunamis in their region, too.
These people live along the border of the North American tectonic plate, especially where the North American plate meets the Juan de Fuca plate, as Japanese people live near the borders of the Eurasian plate, Pacific plate, Filipino plate, and North American plate.
The western boundary of the North American plate includes the Queen Charlotte/Fairweather Fault System that runs along the coast of Alaska and northwestern Canada and the San Andreas Fault through California
McGuire states, 'Today's earthquake happened on a subduction zone thrust fault where the Pacific plate subducts, or dives, under the Japanese islands. Japan regularly has large earthquakes and tsunamis all along its east coast due to subduction.'
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