The Pacific Northwest’s Seismic Past – Lecture in Cannon Beach

Join Sarah Sterling, Assistant Professor at Portland State University on Thursday, March 12th at 7:00 p.m. as she recounts her latest dig of a precontact coastal site in Washington State.

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The coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest have long been menaced by the possibility of great earthquakes and tsunamis. The archaeological and geological records of the region retain evidence of ancient seismic events. Native American oral traditions of the region further confirm that such events have impacted ancient populations in the past. In this presentation, Sarah will generally discuss archaeological and geological evidence of tsunamis in the Pacific Northwest, focusing on what she learned excavating the ancient Klallam village of Tse-whit-zen, located in Washington State, on the Port Angeles harbor shoreline.

Tse-whit-zen village is situated in the midst of the Cascadia subduction zone, a tectonic feature that has been (and will be) responsible for earthquakes and tsunamis from northern California to British Columbia (and across the Pacific). She will also discuss the current state of knowledge about the relationship between the occupational and seismic chronology at Tse-whit-zen and how the historic information can be used to understand the impacts of such events throughout the region.

Sarah Sterling is an Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Department at Portland State University. Her areas of research include reconstruction of the settlement history and past environmental conditions during the 2000 plus years of occupation at Tse-whit-zen, a Lower Elwha Klallam Village on the shore of Port Angeles Harbor. She has also collaborated in geological field studies of ancient earthquakes in coastal northern Washington.

This presentation is FREE and open to the public.


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