Palu tsunami reminder of why we work to prepare Washington for geologic hazards

CaptureA magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck north of Palu, Indonesia late last week, re-shaping the ground beneath the city and destroying dozens of structures. The tsunami that resulted from the earthquake proved much more devastating, killing, as of Monday, at least 844 people.

This devastation is a strong reminder that Washington is also vulnerable to this type of event.

Closer to home, other reminders are tsunami deposits, submarine landslides, and buried trees from the 1700 A.D. Magnitude 9 megathrust earthquake along the Cascadia subduction zone. These clues have been located in numerous places along the Washington, Oregon, California, and Vancouver Island coasts.


This is why The Washington Geological Survey helps Washington communities identify how they may be vulnerable to similar tsunami events and how they can craft innovative strategies for preparing for those threats.

We have produced tsunami inundation maps to show how tsunamis would likely impact communities.



We work with scientists and emergency managers to map results from modeled tsunami scenarios to show where waves would likely strike after a Cascadia quake, identify evacuation routes, and help communities with vertical evacuation strategies. Earlier this year, we released new tsunami inundation hazard maps for Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Bellingham, Anacortes, and the southwest Washington coast.


In addition, Washington faces the second highest risk from earthquakes in the U.S., and one of the highest for tsunamis, yet remains the only west coast state that does not have an inventory of the seismic hazard for critical infrastructure. We’re working every day to identify and map faults, so you can know where your nearest hazards lie.

The Washington Emergency Management Division says the best way to survive any type of disaster is to have a plan, keep informed, and have a mobile survival kit.

Find your best routes

CaptureWant to find the best evacuation routes for your community? Our Geologic Information Portal has a tsunami layer that shows tsunami hazard zones, evacuation routes, and designated assembly areas. Use the address locator tool to find evacuation routes and assembly areas near your home, school or workplace.

Using our interactive maps, you can create, save, and print custom maps, find more information about map features, and download map data for use in a geographic information system (GIS). In addition to a variety of geoscience layers that can be turned on and off, each interactive map has many base layers to choose from, so you can customize your map in any number of ways.