Although inhabited by thousands of people when first reached by Europeans, the Pacific coast of southern Washington has little recognized evidence of prehistoric human occupation. This apparent contradiction may be explained partly by geologic evidence for coastal submergence during prehistoric earthquakes on the Cascadia subduction zone. Recently discovered archaeological sites, exposed in the banks of two tidal streams, show evidence for earthquake-induced submergence and consequent burial by intertidal mud about A.D. 1700. We surmise that, because of prehistoric earthquakes, other archaeological sites may now lie hidden beneath the surfaces of modern tidelands. Such burial of archaeological sites raises questions about the estimation of prehistoric human population densities along coasts subject to earthquake-induced submergence. ?? 1996 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.