With few exceptions, today's tidal trees near Washington's Pacific coast postdate an earthquake that lowered the region by 1 m or more. The earthquake, which occurred in A.D. 1700, is the most recent to have ruptured much of the plate boundary at this central part of the Cascadia subduction zone. Because of the coseismic subsidence, lowland forests became tidal flats where thousands of trees died. Most of the trees killed were Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). In the centuries since the earthquake, tidal deposits have built new land that has been colonized by new Sitka spruce. All but several tens of the region's tidal spruce consequently postdate 1700, as shown by counts of annual rings in 121 of the largest spruce in tidal forests at Copalis River, Grays Harbor, and Willapa Bay. Forests began to return to each of these estuaries in the early 1700s and spread seaward in the late 1700s and 1800s. Annual rings in the oldest of the trees thus record a large fraction of the earthquake-recurrence interval that began with the 1700 earthquake. ?? 2001 University of Washington.
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Renewal of tidal forests in Washington State after a subduction earthquake in A.D. 1700