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Tsunami expert explains what could happen water-wise when The Big One hits

It's not just the potential for shaking that worries us. Our part of the world sits atop the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and movement in that zone far beneath us could bring a gigantic earthquake.

But the earthquake could well come with a big wall of water, a tsunami generated in the Pacific.

That's Ron Harris's area of expertise; he's a geology professor at Brigham Young University and the tsunami expert for SEG, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. We get a visit from Dr. Harris about the dynamics of a big Pacific tsunami, and how people close to the ocean can prepare.

He left us with the 20-20-20 rule:

  • 20 seconds or more of shaking will probably produce a tsunami
  • 20 minutes is all people at the ocean will have to evacuate
  • 20 meters in elevation (65 feet) is how high they should get—at a minimum—to stay clear of water
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The Jefferson Exchange is Jefferson Public Radio's daily news program focused on issues, people and events across Southern Oregon and Northern California. Angela Decker is the program's senior producer, Charlie Zimmermann is the assistant producer, and Geoffrey Riley hosts the show.